Tips for effective mining employee performance reviews

How effective are performance reviews? And how do you make the process as useful as possible?

Performance reviews are a great way to ensure you’re checking in with team members every year and making sure both your company and your people are getting the most out of the employment arrangement.

So, it’s no surprise the use of performance reviews is quite widespread in the mining industry. When Mining People did a poll on the subject a couple of years ago, nearly 77% of the more than 600 respondents said their company has regular performance reviews. About 46% received annual reviews, nearly 22% were reviewed every three to six months, and just over 19% were reviewed more often than once every three months.

That’s a lot of reviews being done all the time. But how effective are they, really? And how do you make the process as useful as possible?

Make sure your employee understands how they’re being measured

The first step is to ensure your employee understands the criteria they’re being measured against. Provide a written list of key performance indicators to every employee, preferably a full review period before their very first review.

  • Ensure employees know which of those areas they have done well in and/or improved on during the previous period
  • Make sure they know which criteria they’re expected to improve upon in the forthcoming period.

The review itself should provide no surprises

By the time you sit down to conduct the review, both you and the employee should have a clear picture of what the conversation you’re about to have will look like.

That’s because, as the employer, you should have been providing feedback about positive performance and pointing out areas that need improvement throughout the whole year (or review period).

The review itself is simply an opportunity to discuss an employee’s performance, to set new goals and metrics, and to develop a plan for the coming period. It shouldn’t contain any new information.

Go into the review well-prepared

The nature of a review means you need to go into it well-prepared. Setting new goals and performance metrics aren’t something you can just wing!

  • Take the time to talk to other leaders across the business who might engage with the employee, and get their comments to include in the review
  • Write down what you want to say. You may even prefer to give that written feedback to the employee, so they can take it away and absorb it
  • Give the employee plenty of notice of the time and date of their review so they can also be well-prepared. A few weeks is good.

The secret to being prepared is to give yourself enough time to collate all the information you need for the review, including talking to colleagues and analysing relevant data. For this reason, it’s not recommended you try to do all of your employees’ reviews at once. That’ll only leave you short on time and no-one will truly get the review they deserve, and it won’t provide results for the company.

It’s much more effective to spread the reviews out over time, then you have time to prepare each review properly. The anniversary of a start date is always a good option for when reviews should take place.

Understand what doesn’t work in a performance review

By asking mining industry employees to critique the performance review processes they’ve been through, Mining People Managing Director Steve Heather identified four key themes to keep in mind. Here’s his advice:

The person conducting the review is critical to success or failure
Direct supervisors of the person being reviewed were perceived to only be going through a box-ticking exercise that has been imposed on them. Senior managers also needed to be involved because of their (hopefully) better communication skills and ability to demonstrate leadership. Otherwise, it is a box-ticking exercise. 

There are often personality differences between a direct supervisor and a worker
The sense is this leaves people with the feeling that the review process is counterproductive for them.

Focus on the person, not the KPIs
There is a clear feeling too many reviews are focused on raw KPIs, including safety, with very little attempt to better understand people and to explain what they practically need to do, to see their careers develop.

Homogeny is providing little room for individual acknowledgment
There are many positions on mine sites that require everyone to do the “same” job (be it truck driving, process plant operating, etc.) and to be paid the same, regardless of the quality of their work and how efficient they are at their job. There is a perception that if a review is overly positive, that implies a need to pay someone more, which isn’t possible given constraints.

What’s the takeaway here? Steve’s advice is to have senior leaders involved in the reviews, or simply don’t do them.

Everybody should leave the review happy and invigorated

Having your performance reviewed can be scary. It shouldn’t be. That’s not productive for either the employee or the company. While performance reviews are an opportunity for feedback, they should feel like a positive experience.

We know there’s room for improvement in this area in the mining industry, because when asked about it in that Mining People poll, here’s what we were told:

Do performance reviews leave you feeling clear about how to be better at your job?





Not Sure


Do performance reviews leave you feeling positive and optimistic?





Not Sure



Fewer than half of employees walking away feeling positive and optimistic is not a great result. Unhappy employees are more likely to be less productive and they’re more likely to leave.

Performance reviews should be morale boosters.


Mining People International has 26 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies with their HR services and recruitment. Find out more about our HR consulting services or get in touch today. 


Dan Hatch
Mining People International