IceHrm Looking for an HR software for Your Company?
Dilanka Dilanka is a Business Development Manager at IceHrm. You can contact her at dil[at]

How To Run Quarterly Performance Reviews

  Reading Time:

Our annual performance review cycle was starting to feel outdated and cumbersome so we decided to make the switch to quarterly performance reviews.

Here I’ll cover the benefits and goals of quarterly reviews, how to conduct them, and how you can move your organization to a quarterly review cycle.

Benefits Of Quarterly Performance Reviews

We’ve moved to a quarterly performance cycle because it brings many benefits vs the annual review cycle:

  • Saves time: People only need to assess three months of performance for each cycle and it’s easier to compile a year-end performance review based on the previous reviews.
  • Timely feedback: People receive feedback on their performance more frequently, which is good for employee development and engagement and helps nip issues in the bud.
  • Goal alignment: Regular reviews help keep employees aligned with the organization's objectives, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same targets.
  • Recognition and motivation: Recognizing achievements every quarter can boost employee morale and motivation and encourage continued performance improvement.
  • Enhanced communication: Regular reviews help to foster open communication between managers and employees, leading to a better understanding of expectations and greater job satisfaction
  • Agility in performance management: The organization can quickly adapt to changes in the market or business environment by adjusting goals and strategies more frequently.
  • Data-driven decisions: Quarterly reviews generate more performance data, aiding in making informed decisions regarding promotions, compensations, and succession planning.
  • Culture of continuous feedback: As a result of the benefits listed above, moving to a quarterly review cycle can help facilitate creating a culture of continuous feedback.

Goals Of Quarterly Performance Reviews

Quarterly performance reviews share similar goals to annual reviews, but there are some differences.

One major goal of quarterly performance reviews is to align shorter-term individual goals with the overarching business goals.

Goals may be refined or adapted based on changing priorities and assessing progress every quarter can make the goals more achievable. It’s also easier to track progress.

Another goal specific to quarterly reviews is to narrow the focus of the review to the previous 3 months.

This means the reviews are more tactical and focus on recent accomplishments and areas for improvement. They provide a platform for more frequent follow-up and are a more proactive approach to performance management.

How To Conduct A Quarterly Performance Review

A quarterly performance review follows a similar structure to an annual review, and Liz Lockhart has a fantastic deep dive in her article on conducting performance reviews.

Step one: Reflect on your team and employee’s performance

Since you’ll be assessing the previous 3 months of performance, this step should take less time than it would with an annual review.

As well as performance highlights and lowlights from your perspective, you can also gather 360-degree feedback from team members as well as other leaders and stakeholders familiar with your employee’s work.

Asking for additional input from others can reduce bias and help create a more comprehensive performance review for team members.

Also, identify any challenges your direct reports had and determine what was in their scope of control. Then create some action-oriented ideas to address those challenges to create areas of improvement.

Look for areas of employee growth during the previous quarter and note improvements in areas of concern from the last performance appraisal.

Step two: Draft your feedback linked to the expectations of the role

Creating a detailed outline of points you would like to cover will assist you during the performance review process.

In the outline, you will want to highlight specific performance measures from the previous quarter (these measures should be based on the expectations of the role).

Next, you can provide action-based feedback that they can use to improve their performance in the next quarter.

If you sought performance input from peers or other leaders, then include that information to demonstrate how your employees' performance impacts others in the organization.

Step three: Prepare to deliver the performance review

This step is where you will create your detailed outline in order of how you want the conversation to flow, using your org’s performance review template.

A great way to start the conversation is with positive feedback, highlighting the good contributions the individual has made to the team in the last quarter. You can discuss the milestones they met toward their goals.

You can then pivot into constructive feedback and opportunities for growth, along with ideas for how you plan to support the employee. This is where you will discuss those action-based feedback items.

Step four: Deliver the performance review

Using your detailed outline, discuss the performance measures and provide action-based feedback.

Allow your direct report to speak about their performance in the last quarter and actively listen to what they have to say, even if you disagree with their perspective. If they completed a self-evaluation, this is when you can review it together.

Ask your employee what they think are their areas for improvement and discuss any misalignment. This part of the conversation is critical to build trust and allow your employees to share their perspectives.

Next, give your employees time to talk about their career development, including what they would like to work on in the next quarter.

Finally, ask your employee how you can support them, and ask for any feedback they may have regarding your performance as their manager.

How To Transition Your Organization To Quarterly Performance Reviews

Transitioning from annual performance reviews to quarterly performance reviews is a significant change for any organization that impacts employees at all levels.

Below are the steps my organization took to transition from an annual to a quarterly performance review cycle.

A note on our process and timeline: We utilized the same performance management software we already had in place, eliminating the need for technology implementation.

We also kept the performance evaluation template mostly the same. Had we made changes to those, it would have impacted our timeline in a major way.

Get leadership buy-in

As with any initiative, you will need to get leadership buy-in before you embark on your transition to quarterly performance reviews.

We built a business case to present to senior leadership, demonstrating that quarterly reviews would optimize the performance management process for employees at all levels of the organization, highlighting the benefits listed above.

Our elevator pitch also stressed the transition would save time for managers and would be less cumbersome for all employees.

After we secured leadership buy-in, we identified some early champions throughout the business to help us get wider buy-in from the organization.

Communication and change management

We started with a specific date in mind for the first quarterly reviews to be completed and then worked backward from there to inform our timeline, developing a robust change management and communication plan.

With a go-live date at the end of the first quarter of 2024, we started work in the 2nd quarter of 2023 to develop our timeline and to ensure we had enough time to properly roll out this change.

We worked on communications to clearly state the reasons for the change to both employees and managers. We used multiple platforms to deliver these communications, including email and our intranet so that it would reach all employees.

In the communications, we emphasized the benefits of more frequent feedback and its alignment with the company's goals.

For the communications to managers, we specifically emphasized that the shift to quarterly reviews would not add to their workload and would streamline the process. We also demonstrated how it would help them track their employee’s progress on goals.

Training sessions

In addition to the company-wide communications, we developed training programs for all employees and delivered them in 20-minute Zoom sessions.

These training sessions reiterated the previous communications, while also providing employees and managers the tools and information needed to successfully complete their first quarterly review cycle.

We also provided additional training for managers to equip them with coaching skills to guide employees in their professional development.

As part of the training, we reminded managers to provide feedback that is specific, actionable, and focused on improvement.

Review and iterate

After the first round of a quarterly performance review cycle is a great time to get feedback on how it went. You can send a short pulse survey to all employees and managers to gain their perspective on what went well, and opportunities for improvement.

My organization will send out separate pulse surveys, one to managers and one to all employees, asking for feedback on how the quarterly performance review went. We want to hear from the organization to ensure the process is running smoothly and determine if any changes need to be made.

We will tailor the pulse survey to ask if employees and managers felt prepared, and if they felt the process went smoothly for them.

We will also look for feedback later in the year to determine if the quarterly review cycles feel less cumbersome than an annual cycle.

Quarterly Performance Review Best Practices

Technology and template

If you don’t already, my advice is to leverage performance management software to streamline the quarterly review process. The software you already use is likely able to support a quarterly review cycle.

We determined at the beginning of our timeline that our current performance management software could transition to a quarterly review cycle.

Whether or not you’re implementing new software, now is a great time to review your performance evaluation template.

You may need to make adjustments to your current template to accommodate a quarterly review cycle.

Determine if your current self-assessment and manager assessment templates fit your new needs.

Goal setting and alignment

You will want to align individual and team goals with the company's overall objectives.

Encourage managers and employees to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals for each quarter.

Taking the company’s overarching goals and breaking them down into quarterly SMART goals is a great way to ensure alignment.

It is important that employees understand how their individual goals align with the company’s goals, and managers play a key role in helping them understand the alignment.

A quarterly performance review cycle allows you to regularly revisit and adjust short-term goals to reflect changing priorities in the business.

Nurture a continuous feedback culture

Regular performance reviews should help nurture a culture of more continuous feedback.

You can encourage a company culture of continuous feedback outside of formal reviews by providing channels for real-time feedback, such as regular check-ins and open communication platforms.

Regular one-on-one meetings are great opportunities to give and receive feedback and also make it easy to track performance.

Other valuable methods of gathering employee feedback include surveys, skip-level meetings, and exit interviews.

Another great way to create a continuous feedback culture is to regularly recognize and reward desired behaviors and positive performance, you don’t have to wait until the performance review.

Quarterly Reviews Foster More Dynamic Performance Management

Quarterly performance reviews represent a progressive shift toward a more dynamic and proactive performance management approach.

Organizations can foster a culture of continuous feedback and improvement, enhance employee satisfaction, and contribute to the overall success of the business.

Effective communication, change management, and training sessions are vital components of a successful transition, ensuring that both employees and managers understand the reasons for the change and are equipped with the necessary tools for a seamless transition.

56 Employee Engagement Ideas to Knock Performance Out of the Park

Elevate your team's enthusiasm and efficiency through insightful employee engagement methods that work. I've grouped 56 unique ideas into broader categories, so you can find the best ones for you....

IceHrm   Create your IceHrm, installation today.