Setting the Tone and Holding the Year-End Performance Conversation

Holding a Year-End Review Assessment Conversation With Your Employee

Now is the time to prepare yourself and your employee for a collaborative year-end conversation.

Phase I: Schedule the year-end review with your employees and include your agenda. Here is a sample outline for your email to your staff member:

Dear Employee -

  • Thank you for completing your self-assessment
  • In this year’s performance conversation, I plan on reviewing your performance throughout this fiscal year. I look forward to hearing from you your summary of what went well, where things could have been improved, and what you would do differently. I also look forward to discussing ways I can support you in your development moving forward.
  • Since we will be holding our year-end conversation remotely, please let me know if you would prefer to do it by Zoom or by phone.

Giving your employee a preview of your plan for the conversation and a choice on how to meet lowers the common level of anxiety around giving and receiving feedback.

To Do:
✓ Schedule Year-end Review


  • Self-assessment
  • Year-end feedback
  • Phone or Zoom?

Now is the time to prepare yourself and your employee for a collaborative year-end conversation.

Phase II: Frame the Summary

Your employee will be more open to the year-end conversation if you use the SCARF acronym. SCARF stands for 5 social domains: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. Research suggests that you can avoid triggering your employee’s defenses by actively addressing these 5 areas.

Social Domains Recommendations
Status Recognize your employee for their areas of expertise
  • Identify your employee’s contributions
  • Encourage and reward learning and development of new skills
Certainty Create familiar patterns that lead to safe, predictable outcomes
  • Share plans and goals
  • Explain what will stay the same amidst change
Autonomy Give your employee the opportunity to make decisions about matters that affect them
  • Allow staff to organize their own work and set their own hours
  • Set a goal and allow people to choose how to accomplish it
Relatedness Treat your employee as a colleague and a member of the team
  • When it makes sense, share as much information with your employee as you can
  • Connect in person or by phone/zoom rather than by email
Fairness Treats everyone with fairness and respect
  • Spread information quickly, clearly, and widely
  • Share the rationale behind tough decisions

TED Talk - S.C.A.R.F. Neuroscience (15 min)

To Do:
✓ Practice Scarf Model