How to Motivate Your Employees After Performance Reviews

professional skills

Though employees often dread annual evaluations, there are ways to leverage performance reviews to motivate your employees to achieve new goals. All it takes is a shift in mindset, purposeful communication, and a better understanding of what your employees value.

Employee Performance Reviews

According to a Gallup study published in 2017, only 14% of employees feel motivated after a performance review. Additionally, only about one-third of employees feel encouraged and involved in their overall career development.

To motivate your employees after a performance review, you need to:

  • Understand the psychology behind motivation in the workplace
  • Create measurable goals tailored to each employee
  • Empower employees to function autonomously
  • Offer formal and informal training

These strategies can help you improve your post-performance review process.

Utilize Workplace Motivation Theories

There are two major workplace motivation theories: needs-based and behavior-based motivation. According to the needs-based theory, to motivate your employees by fulfilling their needs, you must:

  • Create a safe working environment
  • Offer fair wages
  • Provide opportunities for promotion
  • Create an overall sense of job security

While meeting employee needs, you can influence and motivate employee behavior by building trusting relationships and rewarding positive actions. Behavior-based motivation involves:

  • Establishing goals and expectations
  • Providing employees with the necessary resources to support their success

Employees high-five to motivate each other

Include Employees in Setting Performance Goals

Both needs-based and behavior-based workplace motivation theories recommend including employees in goal-setting discussions about performance and creating individual career development plans.

Although it's your responsibility to define job expectations, your employees can provide you with insights on how reasonable the expectations are and help you establish measurable performance goals. As such, your employees can share in the responsibility of meeting company expectations by creating their own achievement strategies, as long as they're provided with the necessary resources.

Empower Your Employees

Harvard researchers found that employees are more likely to feel empowered when they enjoy a certain level of autonomy. However, too much autonomy can lead to feelings of instability or increased stress. Therefore, give your employees enough room to take ownership of their tasks, while providing them with necessary resources and support so that they don't feel abandoned.

Employees applaud during a performance review

Develop Performance Reward Systems

Recognizing and rewarding employee performance is a fail-proof way to motivate your employees. There are two major types of workplace reward systems: intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Although you cannot control your employees' internal satisfaction, empowering them to work creatively and autonomously helps them earn intrinsic rewards.

Extrinsic rewards are usually subjective and measurable as they're based on quotas or timelines. For example, you can set quotas for new sales, resolved customer issues, or completed projects. You could also offer bonuses, promotions, or vacations to employees who achieve significant performance goals. You might also motivate employees by presenting them with a gift card, company swag, or a free lunch when they reach certain milestones.

Although employees look forward to extrinsic rewards, never underestimate the power of a simple ''thank you.'' Daily words of genuine appreciation feed your employees' intrinsic reward systems and remind them that their work is important and meaningful.

Create a Culture of Learning

Employment experts like Robert Half urge companies to include professional development and training as an employment perk to attract and retain top talent. For example, you can offer online courses, group workshops, lunch-and-learns, and education stipends.

Employees attend a performance review meeting

When you develop a culture of learning within your organization, you provide a safe space for employees to grow. Subsequently, you motivate employees to advance and meet performance review goals.

Maintain an Open-Door Policy

IZA World of Labor research shows that employees learn more from daily, informal workplace interactions than from formal training programs. Therefore, consider establishing an open-door policy so that employees can come to you with questions and issues as they arise.

At first, you may need to initiate these conversations to establish trust. You can do this by simply greeting employees by name, asking about their interests, and acknowledging their performance. As a result of effective interpersonal communication, your employees will feel more secure and proactively seek your insights.

Manager conducts an informal performance review

Leverage Performance Reviews

Use effective performance reviews as developmental milestones to promote employee advancement and retention. Motivate your employees by empowering them, offering reward incentives, and encouraging open communication. Understand what your employees value and leverage their growth to boost your company's overall performance. offers over 100 micro courses on workplace skills and compliance. Tell us about your training needs and we'll set up your customized employee development program.

By Rachael Pasini
April 2018
professional skills performance reviews

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