Five Steps to Delivering a Micro-Review

I’m a believer in formal annual reviews. They’re a crucial tool in a manager’s leadership and organizational development toolbox. Companies that toss them out in the name of “the new generation” are losing a major opportunity to shape team members’ professional trajectory.

Day-to-day, an employee may not meet your expectations on particular job tasks and will require feedback. It’s between these more formal performance discussions that the “micro-review” finds its place. What’s a micro-review?

A micro-review is a timely, informal discussion between a manager and their team member that focuses on a review of a specific event or events,
 and where actionable, constructive feedback is provided.

Let’s examine this definition in more detail:

Timely. Micro-reviews are an opportunity to let your team member know how to get better immediately after there was a misstep. Never wait longer than a couple of days to have the discussion and if possible, let your team member know in the moment when they can do better. Don’t wait months to tally up all of the issues you need to address when you can help employees improve performance immediately.

Informal discussion.  Your goal is to have a relaxed but focused tone and to keep the agenda light and flexible.  Scheduling these discussions in advance adds unnecessary formality and pressure and takes away from the discussion.

Between a manager and team member.  Micro-reviews are a two person affair. When giving constructive feedback, the only two people who should be in the room are the manager and the team member with whom they are speaking. Avoid the temptation to try to put additional team members in the room; you lose trust when you criticize an employee in public.

Focuses on a review of a specific event or events.  The micro-review must remain focused on a single issue or event.  If the manager feels the need to discuss the team member’s job at a higher level, the micro-review isn’t the right format.  A well-delivered micro-review will cover a specific instance where the team member’s actions or decisions produced a result that led to sub par results.

And where actionable, constructive feedback is provided.  It’s not enough to tell the team member what you think. When discussing a negative situation, you must provide them with a concrete path to a better way of performing and what you expect in the future. Make sure you’re prepared with constructive feedback for the team member when you enter the conversation.

Employee micro-reviews are a great tool at your disposal when utilized properly. Leverage these five steps to deliver them at a high level of quality and efficacy.


Next week, I’ll share with you best practices for praising employees.