How to Write a Performance Review/Appraisal

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Many people in the workforce associate only negative feelings with performance reviews or appraisals. However, reviews are an essential part of being an employee, influencing how much employees are paid and what steps are necessary to enhance their performance. The key to a successful performance review is honesty. Managers should judge a subordinate’s performance -- not base reviews on feelings or biases. The best way to write a fair performance review is to monitor employee performance on a regular basis. Most employees are scored or rated on a 1-to-5 scale or on one that shows whether employees “exceeded,” “met” or “fell short” of expectations.

Things You'll Need

  • Copy of employee’s job description(s)
  • Performance review forms
  • Employee self-appraisal form
  • 360-interview forms

Get a copy of the employee’s job description about 2 weeks before the review, as it will take some time to evaluate him and write his appraisal. Get a copy of the form through the human resources department if you do not have a copy in the employee’s file.

Give the employee a copy of the job description and performance review forms. Tell him to write a self-assessment of his performance, which is the recommended first step of the review process, according to Creative Business Resources, a human-resources reference site. Tell the employee to type his self-assessment on the performance review form using his accomplishments and job description as guidelines. Provide the employee with a copy of a 360-interview form. Ask him to distribute copies of the 360 forms to peers and direct reports for their assessments of his job performance. Instruct the employee to return his self-assessment and 360 forms within a week.

Review the employee’s self-assessment and 360 forms, as well as those completed by the employee’s peers and direct reports. The employee may have accomplished more than you realized, so use the results of both forms to write your review.

Start with the section of the appraisal form that carries the most weight or the one that counts most toward the person’s review score. Begin with typical responsibilities, such as production work, analysis, reporting writing or other project-related tasks, which usually have the most bearing on a person’s review score. Provide specific examples where the employee exceeded, met or fell short of your expectations with respect to his accomplishments. Rate the employee for that particular section, providing both positive and negative comments to explain the rating score.

Evaluate the employee with respect to various key attributes, which usually comprise individual sections of the review. Rate the employee, for example, on attributes such as communication skills, how well he knows his jobs, his ability to work with others and his thoroughness in meeting deadlines. Write down scores for each individual section. Average all sections and assign an overall rating.

Write a final-comments section, which is already present on most review forms. Highlight the key strengths and weaknesses of the employee, providing specific examples for each one.

Complete the performance review by offering suggestions about actions that the employee can take to improve his performance. Create an action plan that the employee can follow to develop skills in areas where he needs strengthening. Set due dates for each step in the action plan, which may include a business-writing course or an oral presentation seminar. Type the performance review.

Tips & Warnings

  • In both the written performance appraisal and the review session, always start with the positives. This buffers the negative comments that may follow. For example, you might say: “Joe has done an excellent job in analyzing customer data, writing reports and meeting his deadlines. However, he needs to participate more in group discussions.” Also, use 360-review forms even if your company does not. The 360-forms supply you with different perspectives on the employee’s performance. For example, Joe may have gone out of his way, more than you realized, to help other managers as a team player.

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