How to provide an excellent project performance evaluation

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Performance Reviews

  • Performance reviews occur at individual mid-year and annual milestones
  • The intent of performance reviews is to provide detailed feedback on your consulting performance and contributions to the firm for the purpose of recognition, appreciation, and challenge for individual growth
  • Performance reviews will be conducted by either a principal and/or project lead, and will provide an opportunity to discuss:
    • Performance strengths and areas for growth (Evaluation Form)
    • Professional development goals (PDP)
    • General firm and project satisfaction
    • Review/approvals of updated resumes, skills matrix, and project QA and administrative responsibilities  (at annual review only)
  • Feedback provided at the performance reviews should not be a surprise, as ongoing and regular performance feedback is expected throughout the duration and at the completion of projects and firm initiatives

How to provide an excellent project performance evaluation

  • The intent of the Professional Development Plan (PDP) is to provide a mechanism to track individual career goals and ongoing professional development
  • The PDP is a document that maintains an ongoing record of:
    • Overall career goals
    • 12 month goals
    • Self-assessment
    • Project and role preferences
    • Training Plan
  • It is every team member’s responsibility to drive, update and own the PDP
    • The PDP is initially created during new hire orientation and is submitted at every performance review period
    • The PDP is reviewed at the onset of every client engagement with the project manager/leader to facilitate the communication of your near and long term goals and objectives
    • The PDP will reviewed and discussed at every performance review

Performance Review Structure

Mid-Year Review       

Objective:  Conduct an informal performance review, to review/confirm professional                development goals and priorities

  • HR
    • Sends email reminder 4 weeks prior to the mid-year anniversary date
    • Records completion of review meeting
  • Individual
    • Schedules the review meeting with evaluator(s)
    • Updates PDP and brings copy to the meeting for discussion
    • Submits PDP to HR
    • Evaluator(s)
    • Reviews prior evaluation form, makes updates
    • Brings copies of prior (or updated) evaluation form to the meeting for discussion
    • Submits evaluation form to HR

Annual Review

  • Objective:  Conduct a formal performance review,     providing structured feedback through        an evaluation form and to discuss the     annual professional development plan
  • HR
    • Sends email reminder 4 weeks prior to the annual anniversary date
    • Records completion of review and receives soft copies of PDP and evaluation form
  • Individual
    • Schedules the review meeting with evaluator(s)
    • Creates/updates PDP, Resume, Skills Matrix, Project QA/Admin (PM/Leads only)
    • Sends updated PDP to evaluator(s) 3 weeks in advance of the review meeting
    • Brings copies of documents to the meeting
    • Submits PDP to HR
  • Evaluator(s)
    • Solicits feedback as input into evaluation
    • Writes evaluation form and obtains approvals
    • Brings copies of evaluation forms to the meeting
    • Reviews/approves PDP and other documents
    • Submits evaluation form to HR

Setting the Stage

Once a team member is assigned to your project:

  • Schedule and conduct one-on-one meetings to discuss roles and responsibilities
    • Have this meeting as early on in the engagement as possible
    • Explain the intent of the meeting (to confirm roles and responsibilities, discuss individual goals for the project, rules of engagement, etc.)
  • Prior to the R&R meeting…
    • Prepare a description of the roles and responsibilities for each project team member
    • Ask for and receive an updated PDP – then review it
    • Consider how the project can provide growth opportunities for the individual
    • Consult the principal for specific guidance on handling potential concerns or issues previously raised
    • Find out when they are due for an evaluation (mid-year, annual)
  • At the meeting…
    • Discuss the individual’s role and responsibilities on the project, as well as any unique expectations based on the pace, complexity and/or politics of the client environment
    • Have the individual present their goals and priorities for their role and participation on the project
    • Discuss how to provide growth opportunities that match both the performance expectations and individual goals
    • Answer questions
  • Commit to developing your team

Getting Started

  • Solicit feedback on performance
    • Include
      • Project team members
      • Squad leads/principals
      • Selected clients (if appropriate)
      • Engagement Principal
    • Ask them for general performance feedback (what they do well, what they can improve on) and provide target submission dates
    • Use discretion in which items to include in the evaluation form (weed out subjective or questionable comments)
  • If you are one of multiple evaluators on the form, coordinate with others and plan for ample time for inputs and reviews
    • HR will assign the primary evaluator for the evaluation  (re-assign if it makes sense)
    • The primary evaluator should initiate and coordinate the timeline for completion and reviews
    • Generally, the project manager/principal with the most amount of exposure should be the first to draft the evaluation form

Evaluation Criteria

  • There are 7 main categories for performance evaluation:
    • Consulting Skills
    • Work Style/Ethic
    • Professional Presence
    • Knowledge Capital
    • Business Development
    • Firm Contribution
    • Overall Performance
      • Utilization Target and Actual 12 Month Average
      • Training Accomplishments and Recommendations
      • Next Steps for Career Growth
  • Each evaluation criteria is rated with relevant comments
    • The rating scale is specific to the competency expectations of each career level as detailed on the model
      • 1 – Exceeds Expectations
      • 2 – Meets Expectations
      • 3 –  Requires Improvement
      • 4 –  Unacceptable


  • Provide the selected individual’s current career level
    • Provide company ratings/score
    • Scoring should be based on the individual’s capability against the competency expectations as described for that level
    • Be very specific in feedback with EXAMPLES
    • Highlight strengths first
    • Be clear, direct and objective when writing coaching points
    • Specifically point out the competency expectations that were not met (or partially met) and explain the importance/relevance of that skill set
    • If they are at the senior end of a career level, point out the competency expectations of the next level that require additional coaching
    • Provide suggestions for development opportunities; provide guidance
    • Acknowledge professional development goals that were achieved and selectively identify those that were not (referenced from PDP)
  • Summary
    • Overall Performance
      • Summarize description of overall performance and contributions
      • Based on previous comments, highlight the areas of strengths and the specific areas where growth and improvement are required
      • Encourage growth and confirm support of professional development goals
    • Utilization
      • Obtain total utilized hours over the performance period (rolling annual)
      • For full-time billable resources, target utilization should mostly be around 1500 hours – 75% rate
      • Refer to principals or HR for exceptions
    • Training
      • Obtain training accomplishments from PDP (training plan)
      • Identify targeted training based on recommendations and individual goals
    • Next Steps
      • The principal should write (or dictate) the promotion-related content
      • Identify additional opportunities for supporting goals identified in the PDP

Do Not

  • Do not make any references to:
    • Race
    • Ethnicity/Origin
    • Sexual orientation
    • Gender
    • Age
    • Religion
    • Socioeconomics
    • Lifestyle choices
  • Do not use satirical or sarcastic comments
  • Do not make references to any other team member’s performances
  • Do not use vague or general statements (meaningless)
  • Do not use abbreviated or informal language, but do write in complete sentences
  • Do not use overly harsh, emotionally-charged language, but rather state the facts in an objective, professional manner supported by examples

Final Preparations for the Meeting

  • Obtain final approvals by required evaluator(s) and principal(s) within the time allotted
  • Confirm attendance and logistics for the review meeting
  • Remind individual to bring copies of:
    • PDP
    • Resume (annual only)
    • Skills Matrix (annual only, request to HR)
    • Project QA & Admin (annual only)
  • Confirm with principal the facilitation style for the meeting (who will cover which sections, etc.)
  • Bring printed copies of the Evaluation Form for all participants

Facilitating the Meeting

  • Before jumping into the document, take the time to appreciate the individual
  • While presenting the evaluation form, be tuned in to the individual’s response (verbal and non-verbal); solicit comments and questions
  • Be careful not to contradict your verbal explanations from what is written in the evaluation form (don’t back-pedal)
  • Ask the individual to present their annual PDP
  • Take action items to address any questions they may have, as well as ways to help with their development goals
  • Solicit feedback on the firm, project and you
  • Refer to the principal to lead compensation and promotion related discussions (offer to step out of those discussions)
  • Review and confirm completion of resume, skills matrix and project QA and admin checklist
  • After the review, save the final form as a PDF file and send a copy to the individual and to HR
  • Follow-up on any open items and facilitate immediate attention for closure

Champion Your Team Members

  • Be committed to the development of your team members
    • Be honest
    • Consistently and continually provide feedback and coaching points
      • Your team members should always know your thoughts on their performance and development
      • Details in the Evaluation Form should not be a surprise in the review
      • Throughout the duration of the project, keep notes of performance examples for your future reference
    • If there is a change in the quality or attention of performance, inquire about it
    • Follow-up on goals – make sure they are focused on them
  • Treat all discussions and documents with the utmost confidentiality and sensitivity
  • Use the performance review as a motivational tool

Good luck with providing the correct guidance to the project leadership team! Let me know what you think of the article by leaving your comments below. If you need any help or have any questions, please reach out to me via Cheers for now!

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