Updated: Feb 25, 2021
When delivering performance reviews, start with high performers first, middle performers next, and low performers last. This will create a more effective and meaningful experience for everyone. The reasons are simple:
It stops low performers from spreading negativity. The goal is to have your high and middle performers leave your office feeling motivated and energized. High performers' positive energy will inoculate other high and middle performers against any negativity that might emanate from low performers. Low performers may still complain after their review, but high and middle performers will be insulated from low performer emotional toxicity because they'll be riding the emotional high of their positive review experience.
It differentiates high and low performers. Your best employees get to walk into their review proud to be acknowledged as a high performer.
It builds your momentum, which will make the low performer reviews more effective. Talking to your high performers about performance and goal setting and growth is fun, and it builds up your mojo and momentum. The same goes for middle performer reviews, which also tend to be mostly pleasant. By the time you get to your low performers, you'll be mentally insulated, almost like you've had a vaccine against the challenges these folks are likely to present.