It's no fun to be the bad guy. Conduct useful reviews that keep everybody smiling.
Contrary to what some managers believe, employees want to meet your expectations, which means they want performance reviews. These reviews are an opportunity for team members to find out officially how they're doing. Yes, you'll occasionally need to bring poor behavior to light. But even though it can be tough, you should conduct quarterly or annual reviews. These two tips will make the process easier—for you and for team members.
This tells employees they should stop certain behaviors, and they may incorrectly assume that some of their good behaviors are included. Instead of emphasizing the negative, spend a significant amount of time talking to employees about what they're doing right. This lets them know you want more of the same. Allocating your energy to this purpose also helps keep performance reviews positive.
You may not be able to document individuality, but you can still share your appreciation for it. Again, focus on the positives. Tell employees about the times you saw them giving 110 percent to their jobs. If you think a team member has managerial potential, say so and offer to help him or her achieve a promotion. And if you aren't sure how to best reward individuals for their efforts, ask them what they'd like. You might not be able to accommodate their preferences—but then again, you might.