Scheduling and preparing for a performance review


Performance reviews should be scheduled with suitable notice to ensure that all parties have time to prepare for the meeting. Set the location for the meeting in a convenient and private location. It may be necessary to conduct the meeting virtually.


Always schedule enough time to conduct the review taking into account that this is a two-way conversation with feedback from both parties focussed around the employee’s personal development and depending on the role of the employee can take significant time.    


Prior to a performance review meeting, preparation is critical so be sure to collate all materials you require to assess the employee’s performance, taking account of employee and training records. You may wish to seek input from an employee’s supervisors and direct reports.  


In some organisations, it may be necessary to contact senior management or human resources for authorisation prior to conducting a performance review. 


Next you should draft an agenda which should include:


  • Employee’s performance appraisal agreement as updated from the previous review
  • The employees goals or KPIs and how well they have met these
  • Areas where they have excelled
  • Areas where improvement is needed
  • Changes to company policies which could affect the employee’s direction, for example strategic plans
  • Setting goals


Once all set, ensure this is shared with the employee and provided at least 72 hours in advance of the review so they have the opportunity to be thoroughly prepared for the meeting and can present their feedback.


Significant Underperformance 

If you have identified any significant underperformance that may lead to disciplinary action, you are strongly recommended to notify the employee that they are entitled to bring a support person to the meeting. If you do not do this, you cannot reference this meeting in any future disciplinary process as you may contravene employment legislation.


Of course, if the underperformance is significant you may need to consider conducting a disciplinary review instead.  A performance review is not a disciplinary review and should be handled separately..  


If you are expecting to raise key areas of discussion such as under performance it’s important you make this clear in your agenda to allow the employee an opportunity to prepare comments.


A support person

Whilst not necessary in a regular performance review, in certain cases you may wish to advise the employee to bring a support person particularly in cases where they require mental health support, have a disability, chronic illness or where English is not their first language.  The employee should advise you prior to the meeting when a support person is to be present.  


A support person can be helpful to ensure that an employee fully understands and comprehends the meeting discussion but is not there to advocate on behalf of them.  


The role of a support person


During a discussion of an employee’s performance, disciplinary meeting, misconduct allegations, discussing a grievance or consultation regarding change, it is essential to notify an employee that they are entitled to bring a support person.


A support person can be helpful to ensure that an employee fully understands and comprehends the meeting discussion, their rights and assists in their mental or physical health requirements.


Examples of a support person might include


Jane has limited english skills and requests that her husband is present during the meeting to ensure she does not mis-interpret any of the discussion. 


Jonathan gets anxious about the performance management meeting and requests that his colleague joins the meeting.


Max is a member of his industry union and wishes to have a support person present during a meeting to discuss under performance.


A support person’s role is to assist the employee in their understanding of the meeting, not to advocate for their behalf. They may also provide advice and suggestions to the employee, however should not present or defend a case on behalf on the employee. A support person may adjourn a meeting if it does not adhere to the scope of the meeting outlined in the agenda agreed at the start of the meeting.


In any scenarios where an employer wishes to discuss any disciplinary actions or under performance of an employee, an employer can not unreasonably refuse a support person and should make efforts to include them in the process. 


When scheduling a meeting with a support person, remember to:

  • Advise an employee they are welcome to have a support person. 
  • Provide reasonable options and locations for the meeting
  • And, send out an agenda with your discussion points with plenty of time prior to the meeting.


If the employer has made multiple reasonable attempts to include a support person in the process, however this process is proving to be infeasible, the employer may choose to go ahead with the meeting without the support person. Be sure this process is well documented and ensure that you have followed the following steps;


  • Provided at least 3 options for meeting times within business hours
  • Provided at least 14 days notice for the meeting with a written agenda including details of misconduct or under performance.
  • Offered a support person video or telephone conferencing as a way to join the meeting.


It is unreasonable for an employer to request that an employee have a different support person present during the meeting. 


Prior to the meeting, it’s recommended that you send out our “Being a support person” resources to the support person. This is a helpful way of them understanding their role.


If a support person is being difficult or disruptive to the meeting, you may notify the support person if they continue to disrupt the meeting, that you will have to close the meeting.