The Performance Review: Basics and Best Practices for Blue Collar Workers

8 minutes read

The annual review is a tired function as beige as the cubicle walls its typical employees sit in. But in the current struggling labor shortage means that reviews need to be brought to life in every industry, from the dusty scaffolding to the factory floor, to build retention and meaningful work at your company.

Performance should be ongoing process, not a yearly tangent. Periodic performance conversations are often feedback loops on the past, leaving nothing for going forward. This is not a fun conversation for anyone and  61% of employees believe that their company’s review process is outdated. Employees feel more engaged when they see that their employers are invested in their development and growth, but there is no cut and paste process for performance review

For every company and employee, the review process is going to be different. But there are key points that the conversation should hit along the way to focus on the future. So what to cover in any performance review:

  1. Refer to the Job Description. Discuss their role and responsibilities – Link to overarching company goals. This will help provide a frame of conversation
  2. How is management doing? This also allows managers to look back with new employees to see how well the company has executed onboarding and their 90-day plan
  3. Ask what next. Maintain a forward focused attitude to the review.

How to conduct a performance review?

The news portraits the new performance review process to be loosely structured and very informal, but it will all depend on your company culture. There are numerous factors that impact a performance cycle, the number of employees or the technology you’re using can all change how it is run. Whatever format your company decides on for the regular monthly, quarterly, or yearly performance review, informal feedback, whether positive or negative, should be immediate and ongoing.


  • Train managers on the conversation your company is aiming for
  • Keep it private to create a comfortable atmosphere
  • Use examples of behavior and observations from your journal. Any significant positive or negative occurrences should be reacted to quickly, but review them again here to establish a strategy for new growth
  • Include a self-assessment portion that includes questions about personal goals within the company. How can you help them achieve those goals?
  • Consider journaling about performance between each review session and encourage employees to do so as well. Journaling will also help keep the employee’s goals at the forefront of their mind even when a performance review isn’t on their horizon.


  • Don’t give good workers a 10/10 and then walk away – workers that are performing well, still want to be challenged. Continue to develop goals and new skills to work towards.
  • Don’t shy away from negative feedback. Employees deserve to know where they stand but let’s be clear what negative feedback means – this is not meant to attack, reprimand, limit or restrict, but with earnest and genuine intent to help growth.
  • Don’t let this be the only time that performance is talked about. Positive and negative feedback should be directly after related activity – otherwise it becomes completely meaningless.

Developing goals

Build forward-focused goals and leave room for those goals to change. When writing these goals, it is important to be clear and specific. The S.M.A.R.T. guide to developing goals is very helpful.

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Actionable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

Goals shouldn’t be “Maintain safety at all times” but made smart “Attend 1 safety certification course per quarter.” Rather than stating just the end goal of better safety, this is helping the employee see how the goal will be completed.

Review Your Performance Review Process

These goals shouldn’t just be used for your employees. Design similar goals when initiating a new performance management process. If your review process isn’t increasing the level of performance, or directly impacting performance at all, then you need to re-adjust.

With EPAY’s Performance Management tool managers and employees can journal and track progress between review meetings, but also offers instant feedback options to create a continuous review process. It also includes development plan, and collaborative approach to goal setting between the employee and manager. Take a quick two-minute tour today to see what other tools EPAY has for you.  

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