Review Types in HR: A Guide to the Different Approaches Available

It’s no secret that performance reviews have a bad reputation. This article lists what review types in HR are available and how the process can actually add value to an organisation when implemented correctly, with support from technology.

Over the past few years there has been a shift in how performance is managed.

Although organisations are still using original review types in HR, there seems to be a transfer to more open and transparent communication methods in which there are purpose-built HR management systems available that can be used to support the review process.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say I have come out of at least one performance review feeling extremely disheartened; one of the reasons being due to executives and management not implementing the review process correctly, which (from experience) is usually down to time restraints or lack of knowledge of the benefits.

Management also tend to use the review as an opportunity to highlight past issues when they should have already been dealt with on the spot.

Rather than seeing the review process as yet another ‘tick box’ exercise with excessive paperwork, take a look at the following reviews out there and find out how, with the help of the right HR tech, this can be a great performance management tool.

Categorised into the different assessors involved, take a look at all of the review types in HR that we’ve uncovered:

 #1: Self Assessed Reviews

Self-Evaluation Method.

This type of review is usually completed by the employee prior to the Performance Review to get the individual to think about how they feel they have performed.

The self-evaluation can then be compared against the manager’s evaluation of the employee which highlights any discrepancies and in turn leads to an open (emphasis on open here!) discussion between the manager and employee during a one-to-one meeting.

Objectives that are agreed can then be noted and tracked on the employee’s electronic personnel file, easily accessed by both employee and manager so there’s no excuse not to know what progress is being made.

Some good ‘how-to’ tips for the self-evaluation procedure can be found here.

Journaling Review.

Employees keep notes of their own performance milestones and use them as supporting evidence for their review meetings.

The HR technology that’s on the market can now enable instant feedback tools, so any issues that arise are managed in real-time and a trail of communication is readily available.

#2: Management Assessed Reviews

Probationary Review.

Conducted within 3-6 months after hire to review progress in the new role and give/receive initial feedback before hopefully securing the post.

This gives management the opportunity to praise success, discuss areas that need development, extend the probationary period or terminate the employment.

HR technology can alert management when Probationary Reviews are due, which is a great tool to take advantage of as this is the perfect occasion to nip issues in the bud.

Annual Performance Review.

This is probably the most widely used review process an organisation will conduct and the most contentious review process due to being managed ineffectively.

This review is the opportunity to set SMART objectives in-line with annual business goals and get employees all working towards the same end post.

Development opportunities can be highlighted at this point and employees feel engaged and motivated.

HR systems allow management to set visual milestones that are easily tracked and reviewed regularly.

By showing continued interest in the progress employees are making will keep things moving forward nicely.

Mid-Year Review.

Following up on the objectives set during the Annual Performance Review, management and employees can discuss progress, set further objectives or put an employee development plan in place.

A recurring problem here is that management tend to leave discussing issues that arise until this review meeting and that’s when everyone involved starts dreading the review process altogether;  having HR tech in place that supports the review function can allow for better communication of these issues as and when they happen.

Promotion, Transfer or Significant Change Review.

A log of achievements can be kept on the employee’s electronic personnel file and reviewed by future line managers if needed.

This can also be an opportunity to discuss what is expected of the employee going forward.

Any changes can be recorded and amended on a HR system which would significantly reduce the notorious piles of paperwork!

Checklist Review.

A simple yet effective review process consisting of numerous performance questions that have a yes or no answer which can easily be conducted online and sent directly to management, highlighting developmental training needs or poor performance areas when too many negative answers are ticked.

Weighted Checklist Method.

Similar to the above Checklist Review, however the yes or no answers carry a pre-determined value and should be worded and weighted carefully for it to be an effective review tool.

Graphic Rating Scale.

Commonly used as it’s user friendly and fast to conduct, this review typically follows a scale such as L to J, unsatisfactory to outstanding or very poor to excellent.

However, with a lot of room for ambiguity it is worthwhile defining exactly what the ratings cover to make the assessments more accurate.

This review type could be stored on a HR system with further notes and used for future review purposes to monitor whether improvements are happening.

Numerical Rating Scale.

Similar to the Graphic Rating Scale but using numerical values such as 1-5 or 1-10, this again is quickly obtained, tangible data to determine poor, average, good or great performance.

Critical Incidents.

Involves identifying and describing events where the employee did something really well or something that requires improvement.

A pro-active approach to monitoring performance regularly – the incidents can be stored to use as evidence when conducting the review.

Essay Evaluation.

A short, specific essay used to back up a performance rating.

Appraisal software can provide writing assistance tools to compose and store on the personnel file of the employee and is good for detailing in exact words, which makes it easier to refer to later on down the line.

Behavioural Checklist.

The behavioural type of review looks at an employee’s skills, knowledge, ability or other attributes that is needed in order to perform a job effectively, which must be observable.

The feedback can be used during the review process to identify good performance and areas for development.

A favourable review type as it’s bespoke to the employee and the role they are doing rather than generalised.

#3:  Peer Assessed Reviews


A more formal type of review that’s effective at finding faults or defects – typically a group of peers assessing a piece of work to find what needs fixing, if anything.

The findings can then be logged using HR technology and an objective can be set for the employee to amend any errors that have been highlighted during the inspection.

Team Reviews.

By looking at the team and how they work as a whole to identify and set objectives for a group rather than individual employee, the achievable goals set can be placed on a HR system as a single or on-going project or even by department.

Each employee should be guided on what role they play within the team to ensure targets are met which boosts engagement if they understand what they are accountable for.

Walkthrough Review.

More of an informal meeting than some of the other review types we have looked at.

Used for evaluation or information purposes with little to no preparation required as it doesn’t follow a defined procedure.

There’s no messing around with metrics or management reporting but the occasion can still be referred back to in future meetings if necessary.

Peer Desk Check.

Again, an informal style review process which can boost employee’s work efficiency, especially if the employee is aware that colleagues may be reviewing their work on a regular basis.

Feedback can be used as part of the 360 degree review.

360∘ Review.

With a collection of feedback from colleagues, managers and subordinates, this review type looks at a range of skills including behavioural and interpersonal.

A combination of feedback from people the employee works or interacts with within an organisation creates a more thorough and accurate picture of performance that can be discussed within the review meeting.

Feedback from all of the sources can be collected from notes stored on a HR management software – a perfect time saver that is accessible even in a hurry.

#4:  Externally Assessed Reviews

Psychological Review.

This review can be conducted as early as pre-hire to assess whether a candidate is suitable for the role on offer but is also beneficial for employee development.

Using this method evaluates an employee’s psychological traits such as intellect, analytics, and emotional stability and is usually conducted via a third party using an online process to produce a report that gets sent to management.

– – –

Now with all of these review types in HR to take advantage of, there is still the issue of applying and maintaining the process.

Further research provided by the CIPD shows that some of the key criticisms regarding the review process can be helped by employing relevant HR technology to allow for better collaboration between management/execs and the employee alongside reducing paperwork.

Most HR technology supports real-time performance management, employee engagement, motivation and retention, improves areas of communication and saves a tonne of trees!

Performance reviews don’t run themselves and management can make or break the process, so take some time to evaluate and update the review types implemented within your organisation and reap the benefits with help from the HR technology at your fingertips.


Written By

Robyn South

Robyn is a HR professional with over 7 years experience in generalist and complex employee relations matters. A newly established Virtual HR Assistant offering a range of HR services online, who loves to travel and part of the content management team at CakeHR.