6 Tips for Writing an Effective Performance Review

Sean Peek

Learn what to include in an excellent performance review and how performance management software can help.

Employee performance reviews are essential for all businesses. However, how you conduct reviews determines their effectiveness. A performance review can empower your employees to reach new heights – or drive your team away.

An effective performance review helps employees identify growth opportunities and potential areas of improvement while still maintaining healthy business relationships . But writing an effective review isn’t easy, and managers often don’t receive enough guidance. We’ll explore best practices for writing and conducting comprehensive reviews and share how performance management software can help. 

How to conduct an effective employee performance review

Consider incorporating the following six best practices to ensure you’re conducting excellent performance reviews. 

1. Provide regular, informal feedback to employees.

While performance reviews typically happen once or twice a year, don’t limit feedback to review periods. Consider the following when incorporating informal feedback: 

“Highly valuable employees who do their job and do it well are often not the priority of concern in performance review cycles, resulting in missed opportunities to communicate how much the organization values the drive and the results of the top performers,” said Rasure. “An unexpected ‘keep up the great work’ email [or] a quick phone call or text sends a consistent signal to your employee that you are paying attention and value what they do.”

2. Be honest with employees during a performance review.

No worker is perfect, and there will always be room for improvement. When delivering constructive feedback, be honest and consider the following:

Performance reviews aren’t a one-way conversation – getting employee feedback is essential. To gather honest employee feedback , it’s crucial for management to create a company culture where sharing feedback feels natural and welcome.

3. Conduct face-to-face employee performance reviews.

A written review should be a brief but direct overview of discussion points, making for a more nuanced face-to-face conversation. You might want to schedule a meeting in a coffee shop or out-of-office location to provide a comfortable atmosphere. If you’re reviewing remote workers, schedule a video chat so you’re still having a live conversation. This approach leaves room for discussion and feedback and prevents miscommunication.

“The only way to deliver performance reviews is face to face, with ample time to present and process, listen, and respond,” said Bailey. “It’s just too important to relegate to email or telephone. Doing so would send a signal that you didn’t care enough about the subject even to take the time to meet.”

After outlining any shortcomings or mistakes, discuss resolutions and invite employees to comment on the issues you raised.

Need a way to meet “face to face” virtually? Read our guide to choosing the right video conferencing platform . You can also read our GoToMeeting review to learn why this platform is our top video conferencing service for small businesses.

4. Use tangible, pertinent examples during the performance review.

When discussing areas for improvement or what an employee has done well, ensure you reference clear examples to show you’re paying attention. (This is why taking notes over a long period is essential.)

“If you’ve got nothing to refer to, then you’re speaking anecdotally,” said Rbibo. “This prevents clarity and understanding. If an employee is falling behind in certain key performance areas, point to one or two specific examples, and address how you’d like those handled differently in the future.”

5. End the performance review on a positive note.

Your review should end with mutual understanding and respect. You don’t want your employee to feel like they’re in the dark going forward. Instead, equip them with achievable business goals , a sense of optimism, and an employee performance plan moving forward.

“Use the review process as an opportunity to set attainable goals specific to addressing the expectations the employee isn’t meeting, but which also makes the employee feel like they have a clear, reasonable plan of action that can get them back on track,” said Rasure.

Encouraging your employees and expressing your appreciation boosts a good review and lifts an employee’s spirits after a less positive evaluation. Positive reinforcement and constructive professional feedback can help give workers the confidence and drive they need to perform better.

6. Choose your words with care during evaluations.

Pay close attention to how you phrase your evaluations. Excellent leadership language includes meaningful and action-oriented words with a far greater impact than standard phrases like “good” or “satisfactory.”

Here are five words and expressions that will help you effectively highlight an employee’s contributions, based on James E. Neal’s book Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals .

What is an employee performance review?

An employee performance review, also known as a performance evaluation or performance appraisal, is a formal assessment of an employee’s work in a given period. In an employee performance review, managers evaluate an individual’s overall performance, identify their strengths and weaknesses, offer feedback, and help them set goals.

Employees typically can ask questions and share feedback with their manager. They may also complete a performance evaluation self-assessment as part of the performance review process.

While performance evaluations have traditionally been annual reviews, more companies are moving toward quarterly, monthly, or even weekly feedback. Some organizations have entirely eliminated the formal performance review process, replacing it with regular, casual one-on-one check-ins with management.

The importance of employee performance reviews

Regardless of how frequently or in what manner your company conducts performance reviews, these meetings should benefit employees and managers. Workers will gain a better understanding of what they’re doing well and where they can improve, and they can ask questions or provide feedback to their managers. 

In turn, managers can communicate expectations to their team, identify the highest performers, and correct issues before they escalate. 

Unfair performance reviews are a significant factor in employees quitting; this means providing fair, frequent, and accurate feedback are even more essential.

What skills and competencies should a review assess?

Regardless of industry, most employee reviews include an assessment of the following skills:

A review should also include:

How to measure the employee’s performance

After addressing key assessment areas, evaluate and weigh each element to get a picture of the employee’s overall performance. 

How you format and organize this information is up to you and your company’s needs. Some organizations use a grading system of A through F, while others rely on numerical scoring, percentages, or written descriptions (e.g., “most of the time,” “some of the time”). Whichever system you use, ensure it’s objective and easy to understand.

Once you finish the grading process, set up a time to discuss your findings with each employee and build an employee performance plan together. 

How performance management software can help

The true cost of performance reviews is the time managers and HR staff spend gathering and writing the review’s foundational material. To reduce the financial burden on your small business, consider integrating performance management software into your annual review process. 

High-quality performance management software can deliver real-time reports and enhance collaboration between employees and managers. Your platform can help you complete the process and store the results for later review. 

How to implement performance management software

Depending on your HR requirements, you can incorporate a performance management solution in-house or outsource the process to a third party. 

Performance management solutions

Some performance management solutions include an open API system that allows you to customize the software to fit the size and scope of your HR requirements. For example, Namely and BambooHR include an open API that allows for third-party integrations. (Read our BambooHR review to learn more.)  

Performance management solutions may offer the following features: 

PEO services

Professional employer organization (PEO) companies offer another way for small and midsize businesses to provide effective employee feedback. The best PEO services let you outsource performance reviews and other HR tasks through a co-employment arrangement – a contractual agreement where the provider assumes responsibility for assigned tasks.

Using the PEO company’s apps, managers and employees have real-time access to payroll, time, and benefits. PEOs also provide a full range of professional HR benefits, including compliance with the latest employment regulations. 

Some excellent PEO companies include the following:

If your business needs additional HR support, check out our reviews of the best HR software and the best HR outsourcing companies .

Performance review examples and templates

The entire performance review process can be challenging for managers and employees, especially when they don’t have an established framework to guide the conversation. A review template helps ensure successful interactions throughout your organization.

If you’re struggling to write a template for company-wide use, consider these four performance review templates to get you started:

With these templates and all the above advice, effective performance reviews are within reach.

Max Freedman, Sammi Caramela, and Kiely Kuligowski contributed to this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

writing performance reviews for employees

employee engagement | TINYpulse by Limeade

15 Example Paragraphs for Performance Reviews

Lori Li

With so many employees, each with their own individual personalities, it can be difficult to come up with customized performance review feedback in a short time span. Despite that, employee performance review phrases remain essential for the future development of your team. 

These performance reviews support you as you acknowledge the work of your employees. At the same time, they also help you point out any areas where workers need to grow or change a specific type of behavior that might be detrimental to their professional results. 

Having ready-made performance review samples on hand eases the work of superiors and HR managers who are constantly faced with having to choose the right words to keep a worker motivated.

Don’t know what to say in a performance review for an employee? Read our sample paragraphs across 15 different performance categories to help kick-start your writing process.

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Performance Review Paragraph Examples


John is a self-motivated team member and a pleasure to work with. He demonstrates superior technical ability and produces work of exceptional quality. John takes the time to fully understand the scope of projects and displays a keen attention to detail, but often at the expense of effective time management.


This has led to delays in execution and failure to hit production goals. During the next quarter, I will be working with John to identify ways to help increase productivity levels while maintaining the quality of work. These may include actions such as touching base each morning to set daily progress goals and helping John keep a record of time spent on tasks throughout each week.

productivity performance at work


Jessica demonstrates a practical and data-driven approach to problem-solving. She actively seeks different perspectives and creative solutions from her teammates and is continuously experimenting to drive results.

Following a dip in attendance at our annual conference, Jessica organized the collection of feedback from past attendees that revealed key themes for improvement. She also coordinated with our marketing team to refine the targeting of our Facebook ads and develop a strategic outreach plan that involved contacting influencers in our industry. These efforts resulted in a 25% increase in attendance over the previous year and an improvement in our event evaluation scores.

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Lisa recently moved from a position in our Customer Success team to our Product team. Despite the steep learning curve associated with a shift in career direction, Lisa is already showing great potential in her new role. She displays an ability to learn rapidly and a determination to broaden her skill set.

Lisa frequently takes the initiative to identify areas for improvement within the Product team and leads the way in addressing those issues. Late last year, she utilized her knowledge of customer needs to improve a key feature within our product. This required the development of basic programming skills, which she has shown great enthusiasm for learning. Lisa is currently enrolled in a three-month introductory programming course that she spends four hours per week working to enhance her skills.

employee learning performance review


Kate has displayed improved communication skills since our last review period. She responds to emails in a timely fashion and maintains transparency into the work she is performing with her team members. To help achieve this, she has committed to delivering a weekly progress report and arriving with prepared notes to her one-to-one sessions.

Kate, however, still needs to focus on her level of accountability and willingness to take ownership when projects fall short of expectations. When faced with difficult situations, she has a tendency to become defensive and divert blame away from herself.

READ MORE: 100 Useful Performance Review Phrases 


Daniel has been an outstanding mentor and example to our junior engineers. He is dedicated to helping our up-and-coming engineers understand our engineering environment and encourages them to be solution-oriented in everything they do. Daniel has also demonstrated a commitment to the professional development of his direct reports and displays enthusiasm for advancing their skill set through regular coaching sessions.

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During this past quarter, his team has participated in a virtual summit hosted by industry thought leaders and two of Daniel’s employees have obtained certifications to advance their expertise. Daniel has a strong work ethic and has continued to perform the duties required in his previous role as an Electrical Engineer. He could, however, improve his success rate for meeting tight deadlines by delegating work more effectively.


Having worked at our organization for four years, Monica is an experienced member of the team and displays a high level of institutional knowledge. She requires a minimal amount of supervision to fulfill her job duties and maintains a good working relationship with team members cross-functionally. 

Monica shows little engagement during meetings and team-building activities, as well as a lack of commitment to her own professional development. Over the next three months, we’d like Monica to focus on setting more aggressive personal goals. I will also work with her directly to identify learning opportunities to further her career growth. Our hope is that these steps will motivate her to develop the skills necessary to allow for upward movement within the organization.

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Michael has demonstrated fine leadership abilities since transitioning into his role as Director of Human Resources. Michael understands how to drive and direct team members effectively in order to meet company goals and challenges his direct reports to meet their own personal goals and objectives for career growth opportunities within the company.

He is supportive of team members within the company and stands behind his employees’ decisions. Michael often seeks out the broad perspective of multiple team members before forming holistic solutions to problems and challenges. However, there have been times when Michael has failed to effectively communicate information to his team, resulting in a lack of transparency. I’m looking forward to him being available to share feedback more often and let his colleagues know if there are any issues he’s facing early on.

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Mary is committed to producing work that meets high standards. She is always looking to improve the quality of her deliverables and often reaches out to team members in different departments for advice and guidance. She frequently goes above and beyond in her efforts to ensure consistency and generate content that exceeds expectations. Mary actively seeks feedback and uses it to enhance her work.

Over the next three months, I would like to see Mary focus on honing her expertise further by creating a professional development plan and seeking out opportunities to expand her leadership skills.



Robert is a motivated and conscientious employee who takes pride in his work. Robert would benefit, however, from organizing his time more efficiently. He occasionally fails to prioritize important pieces of work and instead spends a large amount of time on projects that are not in alignment with our departmental goals.

During this next review period, I would like to see him establish specific and relevant personal goals to help him focus and stay on track in the context of wider objectives within our organization.



Taylor maintains a highly positive attitude at work and is quick to build strong relationships with others. She strives to help integrate new employees and is eager to delight both internal and external customers, making her an excellent culture fit for our organization. Taylor demonstrated her ability to work effectively cross-departmentally during a recent volunteer day event. She helped secure buy-in from our leadership team and worked with our HR department to coordinate logistics. The result was a fun and productive day for all involved.

While Taylor is a good independent worker, she thrives in a team environment where she can bounce ideas off of her coworkers. Oftentimes, however, Taylor’s desire for open collaboration can distract others. I recommend that Taylor starts to self-monitor the length of conversations that take place outside of break times and formal meetings in order to be respectful of her coworkers’ time.

Surprising Effects of Employee Recognition


Alex always arrives early at the office, using the first minutes to set up her workday and organize all tasks he needs to take care of. Then he starts the days promptly, taking a systematic approach to every single one of his duties. His time management skills, particularly related to how he schedules out his day, have brought such good performance that we’ve turned to him for helping us guide the entire team. Now everyone delivers consistent results and shows punctuality with no exceptions.

Although he’s provided such amazing solutions to how we manage our time, I feel Alex needs to work on making better time estimates. He has often given a larger time span for easy tasks he would finish earlier than expected. On the other hand, he’s often unable to take a break when dealing with more complex tasks he hasn’t given an accurate time estimate for. We’ll turn to using a time tracking tool in the long run so we can analyze past performance together.

time management-1


Ever since we’ve hired Chris in 2019, he has shown perfect attendance. He is always on time, not missing any meetings, and actively participating in all discussions. I’d truly characterize him as the life of the office as he is always the one to share feedback or get us thinking when silence creeps in during a meeting.

Although he is always on time, I’ve noticed he’s been extending his lunch breaks with no explanation. I’d prefer for him to let us know if there’s a legit reason for this so we can adjust communication. I would also like for Chris to answer the emails we send to him in a more timely manner.

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Jane has been an essential part of our customer service ever since we’ve decided to start hiring remotely to meet the needs of our customers in Europe. She’s the key to delivering timely feedback across multiple time zones, making sure everyone gets the answer they need from our brand in great detail. We’ve never received any negative messages on her performance and every customer who’s talked to her has given her a full 5-star review.

Despite her friendly attitude, I’ve noticed she’s been taking more time than needed to learn about our products. I’d like for Jane to focus on getting to know our customer base more so she can anticipate their needs and issues. While she can learn these by talking to our customers, we’re always launching new products Jane will have to keep up with and understand their changes. We’ll be offering all the educational materials needed so she won’t be left behind.


Noah is one of our most adaptable employees. He can adjust to any change in a matter of minutes and he’s also been encouraging others whenever we have had to get used to new surroundings and situations. We’ve been able to turn to Noah whenever we needed someone to take on last-minute work due to his flexibility.

Even though he’s been exceptionally good at persuading others not to give up during challenging times, I’d like for Noah to appreciate our positive comments and constructive feedback. It seems like what we say is seen as criticism when he doesn’t agree with us, so I hope he won’t neglect this part of his development in the future and we’ll happily provide guidance whenever needed.


Georgia has tremendous personal drive, constantly pursuing new training and professional development opportunities. On top of this, she always takes the time to share her newly acquired knowledge with us. Her strong motivation has also helped her complete tasks with minimal supervision. She has even taken full control over any mistakes she makes, correcting them in a timely manner.

I did, however, notice that Georgia is afraid to take risks because she simply doesn’t want to make any mistakes. I’d encourage her to go for calculated risks since we support people who make mistakes and learn from them. I also expect her to seek feedback from us. While she does an amazing job at voicing her own opinions, she seems hesitant when it comes to inquiring about her own performance. So, we’ll actively work to encourage her to take more initiative.

drive performance review paragraphs

Tips for writing a performance review paragraph

1. include specific examples to support your observations .

The above samples for employee evaluation are just rough templates to use. Beyond these, you’ll need to tailor them to every single employee.

All performance review phrases should include a real-life example of a situation when the employee displayed a certain type of behavior. This helps back up your claims, get the employee to look back and where things went well or wrong, and improve their performance and attitude for future similar settings.

Here’s an example to take into account when creating your next performance review paragraphs: “[Employee] worked on [project/task] and was responsible for [responsibility]. Employee displayed [good skill / trait] while delivering [results] during [time period].”

2. Provide guidance for career growth and professional development opportunities

The whole point behind performance reviews is to help your employees improve their performance and keep growing. As a supervisor, your role is never to criticize or complain about specific behaviors or lack of skills.

Instead, provide your best advice for each negative trait your employee shows. Tell them how they can better themselves, what resources they have, and how you can help them with their professional development.

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3. Make sure your default tone is a positive one

No worker should be horrified to sit through a performance review. The tone you use when you point out top skills along with issues you’ve spotted should always be a positive one. 

Avoid saying things like “You’ll never be able to...”, “You can’t improve this...”, or “I can’t believe you didn’t...” These will only make your team feel less motivated and lack the appreciation they need since any negative statements will overtake the positive words you might have said previously.

4. SMART goals

Work together with your employees to set SMART goals—not general ones. SMART goals are:

A general goal would be something like: “You should keep up with industry trends.”

On the other hand, with SMART goals, you’re setting objectives and telling people how to reach them within a set timeframe: “Learn three new marketing techniques using our long-term education subscription in order to stay updated on the latest trends over the next two months.”

The Truth Behind Performance Reviews by TINYpulse

5. Always follow up 

Performance reviews are useless if you never follow up on what’s discussed during them. Schedule time on a regular cadence to track progress towards goals, see what they’ve improved, and help in case they’re stuck at some point.

Take all of the steps above one at a time, and gradually work on becoming better at offering advice and using performance reviews to help your team grow instead of focusing on everything that went wrong.

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The future of performance reviews

While with traditional performance management, reviews are only done during a specific time of the year, the new workforce along with the remote work environment many of us are now a part of have us adapt to the changes. Simply reviewing your employees’ performance at specific times is no longer enough. The feedback process should be continuous, helping individuals grow professionally, fix their mistakes, and fully make use of their qualities throughout the entire year.


TINYpulse can help you ensure that continuous performance management is taken care of within your organization. The tool offers 360-degree feedback to allow anyone in your company to solicit feedback from other employees at any time. This way, you don’t have to wait for the quarterly/annually performance review cycle to come around. 

TINYpulse’s 1-on-1 meetings enable managers to schedule consistent check-ins with direct reports and get prepared with coaching notes before the actual meeting, so they know how to support their employees to do their best work. 


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Start evaluating if your employees know how much you value them!

Employees who feel they are listened to and recognized feel more valued — then become motivated to be more productive.

58 Performance Review Examples That Motivate Your Staff


Undergoing a performance review can be stressful to workers. They think the worst and feel uneasy about what problems you'll bring up. 

And it's no easier as a manager. Trying to provide helpful feedback, while still motivating your team to become better can be challenging. 

However, performance reviews are necessary to your company's success. They allow employees to see where they stand against their peers and provide valuable feedback to i mprove performance .

Keep reading to learn tips on how to provide an effective performance review. 

What is a performance review?

writing performance reviews for employees

A good performance appraisal will include specific goals for improvement, so it's vital to:

clearly state the employee's strengths.

demonstrate the employee's weaknesses.

highlight areas for growth.

give clear direction for future professional development.

The purpose of the review is to evaluate current performance and set new performance goals for a certain time period, such as the next 12 months.

Why performance reviews matter

Employees work best when they work under strong leadership. But what does it mean to be a strong leader? Managers should know their employees and how to motivate them to become the best workers possible. 

This requires understanding their strengths and weaknesses, and how to motivate them to overcome challenges and hone the skills they excel in. 

The State of Employee Feedback report shows that businesses see higher employee engagement when managers give regular feedback. Here's a look at the numbers:

50% of companies find it more important to implement performance management programs

Over 85% of highly engaged organizations use one-on-one meetings between employees and managers

Over 54% of highly engaged organizations have monthly or quarterly one-on-one performance conversations

63% of engaged and highly engaged companies say employee recognition programs are important, and half of organizations say they saw positive ROI as a result.

So not only does employee feedback improve engagement and retention rates, it can help your bottom line.

How to provide constructive feedback in your performance review

writing performance reviews for employees

Here are several tips for giving constructive employee feedback:

Be honest : Don't sugarcoat your comments. If there are areas of improvement, let them know (respectfully), so they can fix them.

Give praise where it's due : Showing gratitude proves you value the worker (especially if you have a lot of criticisms in their performance review). 

Provide suggestions : Don't just criticize. Offer tips to improve on the issues they're struggling with, so they can make adjustments. 

Use concrete language : Avoid vague terms that leave room for misinterpretation. Be clear and concise about what you mean, so your employees know exactly what to do to become better workers. 

Helpful hospitality and retail performance review phrases

You want your employees to walk away from your performance review invigorated, not troubled or stressed. So here are several ways to phrase your feedback to ensure workers move forward with confidence. 


Your employee needs to adapt quickly to changing situations. This is especially critical in fast-paced environments like restaurants, hotels, and retail shops. To assess your employee's ability to adjust to change, you can provide feedback like: 

"Quickly adapted to new cleaning standards to meet COVID requirements."

"Responded positively to changes in customer service expectations during this pandemic."

"Adjusted their approach to accommodate guest preferences while maintaining high-quality cleanliness."


Effective communication is essential for success in any workplace. Your employee has many opportunities to demonstrate effective verbal and written communications throughout the day. Here are some examples of appropriate statements regarding your employee's communication abilities:

"Respectful to guests and can communicate professionally."

"Responds promptly to requests for assistance from managers and co-workers."

"A great listener and provides valuable feedback to co-workers and managers."


A leader sets an example for others to follow. Leadership skills are vital for employees to demonstrate, even if they're in a non-leadership role. So it's good to evaluate how well your employees lead others through difficult times. For instance, consider these statements as part of your evaluation: 

"Helped lead our team by providing direction and guidance during challenging circumstances."

"Demonstrates leadership qualities such as motivating peers during times of stress."

"Can work effectively under pressure and handle multiple tasks at once."

Quality control

A business is only as great as the quality it provides. But you need a team that values this just as much as you do. Evaluate your employees for attention to detail and consistently to determine their ability to maintain quality. Consider using one of these phrases to describe your employee's quality control efforts:

"Enforces standards of cleanliness and sanitation."

"Works diligently to improve overall product quality."

"Tests food items before they're served to customers."

A business can't run if its workers are consistently absent or late. If your employee misses too much time at work , they may lose out on promotions and raises. Therefore, it's important to note when attendance issues arise during evaluations. Use one of these phrases if you notice poor attendance: 

"Arrived to work late [x amount of] times within a 30-day period."

"Misses [x number of] days due to unexcused absences."

"Fails to meet expectations related to punctuality."

Or if their attendance is exceptional, then you can provide feedback like:

"Attends regularly scheduled meetings and events."

"Always shows up when expected, especially during busy seasons."

Leadership skills

Retail and hospitality employees need to lead effectively within the company. They also need to take the initiative and make decisions that benefit the entire group. These qualities are necessary if your business wants to grow and prosper. Use these samples to give constructive feedback about your retail employee's leadership skills:

"Assists co-workers in completing assigned duties at the front desk."

"Participates actively in planning activities for guest events."

"Provides input into strategic initiatives at our store location."

"Develops strong working relationships with clients and vendors."

An employee who works hard and produces quality work is great. But how well do they work on a team? Teamwork helps employees achieve goals more efficiently. It also builds trust among all parties involved. When evaluating collaboration, look at whether or not your employee works cooperatively with others. Some ways to phrase feedback include:

"Cooperates with fellow workers when completing tasks, such as taking inventory."

"Shares the right information freely with co-workers."

"Respects the opinions of others."

Customer service

writing performance reviews for employees

To keep customers happy, employees need to be polite and professional. Your employee may even want to learn basic customer service techniques such as smiling, saying "thank you," offering help and asking relevant questions. Here are some sample comments to make about an employee's customer service abilities:

"Shows courtesy toward guests."

"Greeting guests warmly upon entering the establishment."

"Offers complimentary water during mealtime."

"Asks guests if there is anything else he/she could offer."


Productivity is one of the best indicators of job satisfaction. Employees who feel productive have higher morale and tend to stay longer. Productive employees can complete projects quickly while still maintaining quality standards. To evaluate productivity , consider using feedback like:

"Maintains a well-stocked store, even when the floor is busy."

"Works well under pressure."

"Keeps track of inventory levels accurately."

Problem solving

If your employee encounters problems while performing daily duties, they must solve those issues promptly. They should take responsibility for resolving any issues encountered. The following statement describes someone who solves problems effectively:

"Identifies potential problem areas before they become major obstacles."

"Sees problems early enough to prevent them from becoming serious challenges."

"Seems to have a knack for finding solutions to common problems."

Time management

Managers need to know whether employees manage their own schedules efficiently. Time management involves planning ahead, so work gets done at its optimum level. It also means being organized and efficient. Managers should look for ways to encourage effective time management behaviors among their employees. Some possible feedback includes:

"Makes sure all tasks get completed on time."

"Enforces strict adherence to hotel policies."

Interpersonal skills

An essential part of managing a successful workplace includes developing interpersonal relationships. Interpersonal skills involve communicating effectively with customers, clients, vendors, suppliers, and fellow workers. Here are some ideas for feedback:

"Treats guests courteously and professionally."

"Gives compliments frequently."

"Respects privacy rights of others."

Needs improvement

Evaluating an employee's performance is identifying needs improvements. When you notice something wrong, it may mean there's room for growth. Your goal as a manager is to identify strengths and weaknesses, set goals, and develop plans to improve specific aspects of your employee's performance.

Some ways to offer feedback when an employee needs improvement includes:

"Performs job optimally, but needs to show up on time."

"Provides excellent customer service, but needs to work on speed using the register."

"Is a great team player, but needs to improve knowledge of products."

A coachable person is easier to grow personally and professionally over time. As a coach, you teach workers to think critically, analyze situations, and overcome challenges. So you'll want to evaluate employees based on their ability to follow instructions. You can use feedback like:

"Can listen carefully without interrupting."

"Admits mistakes and takes responsibility for actions."

"Asks questions to gain more knowledge."

"Seeks advice from supervisors and mentors."

"Accepts constructive criticism."

A motivated employee works harder and is more likely to stick with your company. You can evaluate a worker's motivation level by analyzing their work ethic. You can offer the following feedback based on your findings:

"Works hard despite difficult circumstances."

"Doesn't complain or blame other people."

"Stays focused on a task until finished."

"Has the initiative to learn new techniques."

"Looks forward to future opportunities."

There are different ways employees can show creativity in the workplace. For example, a front desk associate might be creative by offering suggestions that increase efficiency. A salesperson could be creative by coming up with innovative marketing strategies. And a hotel chef could be creative by creating unique recipes. Here are several ways to offer feedback about a worker's creativity:

"Can come up with unique approaches to solving problems."

"Thinks creatively to meet deadlines."

"Finds different methods to complete tasks."

"Uses imagination to create new business ventures."

How do you write a quick performance review?

writing performance reviews for employees

Determine which behaviors, traits, and skills you would like to address about the employee. For example, communication skills, productivity, or punctuality.

Write down each and give positive or negative feedback about them.

Describe the problem (or positive feedback) in more detail. What does this behavior look like? How often does it happen? Is it always negative or just sometimes? 

If possible, offer solutions rather than simply describing the issue. Suggest ways to change the situation. For instance, instead of saying, "You're not organized enough," suggest, "We could schedule regular time together to go over daily tasks." 

Example performance review template

Here's a template for writing an employee performance review: 

Performance Evaluation Template

Date: _________________________________________________________________

Employee Name: ____________________________

Job Title: _______________________________

Position Description: _____________________________________

Supervisor’s Comments: ______________________________________

Employee’s Comments: ____________________________________________

Areas for Improvement: ____________________________________________

Name: ___________________________________________

Date: __________________

Offer motivational employee feedback

It's not easy providing employee feedback, especially when you have to bring awareness to issues. But by focusing on both the good and bad, you can balance out your worker evaluations. 

This way, your employees feel valued and confident in working harder to improve. 

By using the above techniques, you'll find that employee evaluations become easier and less stressful for everyone. If you need a way to keep your workers organized and productive, then try Deputy for free today .

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Performance Management

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The complete guide to employee performance reviews with examples.

23 min read If you’re planning to implement performance reviews for the first time, want to overhaul your company’s approach or just need a reference guide, here’s everything you need to know to create a foolproof system. Plus, we’ve included some performance review sample questions you can start using today.

What is an employee performance review?

A performance review is a formal, regulated assessment mechanism in which managers and other key stakeholders evaluate an employee’s work performance. The purpose is to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses, offer constructive feedback for skill development in the future, and assist with goal setting.

Whichever methodology you choose for performance reviews, a well-planned and executed appraisal boosts employee engagement and sets the tone for creating a culture of feedback and ongoing development at your organization.

Free eBook: The essential guide to employee experience surveys

Types of performance review

Weekly or fortnightly performance evaluation.

Weekly or fortnightly performance reviews don’t need to collect a vast amount of data each time or be particularly goal-oriented. They are helpful for record-keeping and making sure a project – especially an agile or fast-moving one – stays on track week by week

Monthly performance appraisals

These are especially useful for businesses who employ people on short-term contracts or freelancers, and for new hires during their onboarding process , as they go from job description to actual performance.  New projects also benefit from monthly employee reviews so that they stay on track and organizational goals are met. Some employees typically prefer monthly check-ins over annual reviews.

Quarterly performance evaluations

Companies divide their business year into quarters (Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4), with set goals, targets, and budgets. It makes sense that assessing performance is run alongside these. Three months is sufficient time for an employee to achieve their goals and targets, as well as hone their organizational skills.  You can also aggregate weekly/fortnightly or monthly reviews together each quarter to create a report of an employee’s progress, ready for a review meeting.

Annual performance review

Some businesses still conduct an annual review, but it is increasingly being replaced, or at least supplemented, by pulse surveys and 360 reviews throughout the year. These traditional and formal performance appraisals tended to become overblown, with too much information on them to be manageable, or to be a fair evaluation of an employee’s efforts. They looked back on past performance rather than forwards to future performance, and a year is far too long for employees to go without feedback.

That said, reviews and feedback throughout the year collated into one 12-month overall performance report are a useful bank of information, provided all the feedback has had actions attached to it.

Who runs an employee performance review?

It’s usually the person’s line manager, as they know most about the employee’s role and their current work. In some cases, a leadership group, team leader, or a more senior leader may lead the review or someone from human resources.

Why are performance reviews important?

As well as long-term positive outcomes, performance reviews offer an immediate lift – not only for businesses but for employees who want an overview of their strengths and weaknesses and progress in their careers. Here are some of the benefits performance reviews can offer:

1. Aligning personal roles to business goals A job performance review is a chance to make sure everyone understands the organization’s vision and goals and how their work fits into the bigger picture. Individual performance drives organizational performance.

2. A clear understanding of job roles Performance management empowers individuals to think about their role within the organization and clarify any areas where they have questions. When employees and supervisors can clearly understand and own their specific job duties, any ambiguities in the workplace are eliminated. Each person is accountable for their work and responsibilities.

3. Regular feedback about performance Regular feedback contributes to better all-around communication in the workplace. Performance reviews help to identify an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, give employees a better understanding of the expectations that they are being held to.

Performance management can be a motivational tool, encouraging employees not only to feel more satisfied in their work  but to take action beyond what’s expected.

4. Career development The performance review presents the opportunity to plan for and set objectives to further develop an employee’s career. Performance management will also help them gain any additional training or mentoring which can act as a basis for HR’s development of future succession plans.

5. Rewards for good performance Performance management offers a variety of rewards beyond just compensation that show gratitude for a job well done, such as time off and bonuses. The prospect of a better than ‘exceeds expectations’ performance appraisal – one where it is recognized that you’ve gone above and beyond – is an incentive to perform well and may open the door to career advancements in the future.

What’s the best approach for performance appraisals?

With so many practices, HR policies, tools, and tech­niques involved, no two per­for­mance man­age­ment programs will look the same. Some have grading systems. Others have question and response formats, while others are expected to be free-form.

Just like your com­pa­ny cul­ture, your per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem will be unique and spe­cif­ic to your val­ues, your goals and your pur­pose.

How­ev­er, every good employee per­for­mance review process seeks to improve how the overall organization performs while sup­port­ing the per­for­mance, development, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and well-­be­ing of its employees.

Despite this common goal, data suggests that traditional approaches to performance management can be demotivating, uninspiring, and make people want to give up rather than work harder and progress.

In fact, traditional performance management (PM) is universally disliked by both managers and employees. It is seen as having little value and has failed to meet its intended goal of improving performance. According to research reported in the Journal of Industrial and Organizational Psychology :

writing performance reviews for employees

It’s time to make the case for change and redesign performance management. Instead of an annual performance review, a better performance management system frequently engages its employees to better gauge their work satisfaction levels. 

So rather than focusing on past performance in a yearly review, a better employee performance evaluation system incorporates continuous feedback. Research from Josh Bersin estimates that about 75% of multinational companies are moving toward this model.

What should a performance review look like?

Performance reviews based on a continuous feedback philosophy are more likely to be future-focused and geared towards promoting growth and development. Rather than rating employees against a one-size-fits-all standard based on their past performance, continuous performance management treats each employee as an individual whose full potential can be maximized.

Employee performance evaluation/review

However, adopting continuous feedback doesn’t mean removing measurement and metrics from your performance review process and reports altogether – it just means you should be using them in a different way. Metrics and measurements can provide valuable clarity and focus for employees and managers, acting as a framework for planning and prioritizing future efforts.

To be useful and realistic, measurements for progress need to be balanced across all the relevant elements of performance. Appropriate measures might cover a range of aspects like quality, quantity, timeliness, and/or cost-effectiveness of the work.

Expectations placed on employees also need to be credible – the employee can visualize the results and the means of achieving them, and feel confident about getting it right.

To that end, performance expectations must be:

How to set the right goals in a performance review

When it comes to employee goals, striking the right balance is everything. Goals can’t be too easy, or they won’t leave employees feeling sat­is­fied — most peo­ple enjoy a chal­lenge. They want to be stretched, expand their knowledge , and devel­op new skills. Equal­ly, how­ev­er, goals that are too chal­leng­ing can be demotivating. Employees will burn out try­ing to accom­plish them, or they won’t try at all, believ­ing them to be impossible.

Effec­tive goals should be set col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly between man­ag­er and employ­ee. They should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Based) and tracked reg­u­lar­ly. In addition, reg­u­lar meet­ings should be held to dis­cuss goal progress and what can be done to sup­port the employee in meeting the target.

Performance review templates

Nobody can, or should, conduct an off-the-cuff performance review. It’s essential to use customizable templates that cover all the necessary feedback areas and metrics,  and also deliver a positive review that energizes, motivates, and engages individual employees.

Read more about performance review templates

Performance review examples: phrases and questions

Whichever performance review model you’re working within, providing feedback with clear, positive language is the key to keeping the review goal-focused and productive. Writing performance reviews requires managers and other raters to be specific with their feedback, stay constructive, and provide solutions needed to help the employee grow.

You’ll find criteria will vary depending on the size, scope, and culture of your organization. However, there are a few elements that come up for almost all companies. Here are a few sample areas of focus to get you started with planning your employee evaluation criteria:

Accomplishing goals

Leadership qualities



The content of a performance review will vary depending on job role and organization, but it may be valuable to develop some universal questions for managers to ask, such as:

Performance review phrases to avoid

Although performance review templates and performance reviews themselves are customizable, it’s important to be mindful of the messages you are giving out. Great review conversations nurture an employee’s performance, development, and manager-employee relationship, whereas thoughtless ones can damage employee engagement and even business success as your top people leave.

Here are some real howlers – while some of these may seem a little over the top, they do demonstrate neatly what NOT to say, and why not:

“You do so brilliantly, I have nothing to give you feedback on”

Even your very top talent will have some areas they can improve or develop skills in. Comments like this give the impression you haven’t bothered to look at their work in any detail.

“If you double your targets this year, then we might look at promotion to the C-suite next year”

Avoid ‘if/then’ statements, as they sound like empty promises, based on unattainable goals.

“You’re never at your desk on time. And you’re always late to meetings”

Avoid absolute words such as ‘always’ and ‘never’ – no one is late 100% of the time.

“You’re a great employee. Keep it up”

  This says nothing about what the employee does that is great, how they can be even greater, or what they can do to ‘keep it up’. You need to explain in detail what the employee did that was great and their development goals to continue their good work

“I heard you handled that financial services account badly, which was disappointing, to say the least”

The reviewer is relying on hearsay here rather than first-hand observation and gives the employee no chance to put over their version before being criticized. True, it may be peer observation, but using 360 feedback rather than the office gossip mill is much more constructive.

“You knocked the other two designers into a cocked hat. Their prototypes were trash compared with yours.”

Comparing colleagues and co-workers in a performance review is a big NO. You’re reviewing only one person’s achievements, so leave the disasters (and triumphs) of others to their own, separate performance discussions.

“I can’t believe you! I thought you would do a good job of this, but it’s very poor”

The reviewer is bringing emotion into this feedback, which will only upset or rile the employee having the review. There is no constructive feedback and this level of hostility is likely to drive the employee to look for another job.

“You’re lucky to get this promotion. Don’t waste the opportunity”

Condescending and begrudging much? You never want to undermine your employees but rather praise them and encourage their successes. Forcing employees into a promotion does not mean its the best option for them, they deserve to choose.

How to prepare to conduct a performance review

If you’re a manager or team leader tasked with running appraisals for your team, you’re likely to have an established performance review process to guide your approach. However, you can still make the review experience go as smoothly as possible by preparing in advance.

Clear your calendar

If you’re going to be meeting with team members one on one, make sure you won’t be distracted or interrupted by other priorities during the meeting. Try to minimize commitments earlier in the day to reduce the risk of getting waylaid and having to postpone the review or turn up late. This way, employees know that the review is as important to you as it is to them.

Brush up on your employee experience data

Before the meeting, look through your notes from the most recent review with the employee to see what happened last time. What were the main themes of the meeting? Was there anything either of you said you’d follow up on?

Be ready to take feedback as well as give it

Make sure you allow enough time for the employee to share their feedback with you regarding the way you manage and bring a laptop or notebook to record it so that you can follow up later.

Prepare for curveballs

Although you shouldn’t be telling the employee anything they don’t already know about their performance, it’s very possible that they’ll bring up matters that are news to you. Because they’re private one-to-one exchanges, reviews may be seen as an opportunity to raise issues or share news. While it might not be pertinent to the review itself, be receptive to whatever the employee brings up and table it for a later conversation if required.

Performance review pitfalls to avoid

As you’re planning or reviewing your performance review process, you can save time and expense by being aware of these potential failure points.

1. Losing the link between process and purpose Make sure the goal of your performance management systems drives the process, and be ready to make changes if required. Understanding how well your organization’s goals line up with the day-to-day work of individuals and teams is key here.

2. Not prioritizing a culture of feedback If you don’t already have a culture of feedback , invest time and resources on the front end to communicate the true purpose of performance reviews and build trust in the process to develop a feedback-based culture.

3. Failing to engage your stakeholders Getting decision-makers and business leaders on board right from the very beginning will improve buy-in, increase participation rates, and set your program up for success.

4. Not building in a support network Follow-up and feedback need to be built in at the forefront of the project. Set expectations for employees and managers early on so they know who they can go to for advice and support

5. Lack of communication Communication is the most critical component of implementing a new or improved performance management system. Per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tems suc­ceed when com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the process is authen­tic and trans­par­ent.

6. Insufficient training and enablement for managers No per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem will be suc­cess­ful if the peo­ple involved don’t invest in the process. If employ­ees sense that their man­agers are apa­thet­ic about the per­for­mance man­age­ment sys­tem, they will mir­ror this atti­tude. Man­agers need to take con­trol and lead by example, and they need support and adequate training to do so.

Alternative ways to collect feedback

For many businesses, performance reviews are the most helpful way to share and collect employee feedback . But thanks to the uptick in experience-led business and a new understanding of the value of employee experience , new methodologies are emerging.

360 feedback

In a 360 feedback , staff members can receive feedback not only from managers, but from peers and junior staff members. They can also review themselves, resulting in a complete – or 360 degree – view of their strengths and opportunities. However, this kind of program should only ever be used for development, not to gauge performance.

Continual feedback

Some companies prefer to avoid the formal structure of a performance review and instead share feedback on a continual ad hoc basis. This might be a suitable option for very small businesses and new start-ups. However, there is a risk that without a formal checkpoint, staff lack clarity on how they’re progressing and what they need to work on.

Employee pulse reviews

The employee pulse review can be seen as a happy medium between continual feedback and a big once-a-year performance review. It’s a smaller-scale employee review that’s conducted on a more frequent schedule, such as monthly or quarterly. Pulse feedback is more commonly associated with employee engagement surveys , but it works just as well for sharing feedback in the other direction since it offers clear measures and is quick and easy to complete.

Employee XM Team

This article was written by the EmployeeXM team

Our EX Scientists are a global team of Employee Experience consultants who deliver advisory services for our clients to help them design and deliver world class EX strategies & programs. They provide empirically driven, best practice solutions.

This post was originally written June, 2019 and was updated August, 2021.


Bersin Josh. (2018). We wasted ten years talking about performance ratings. The seven things we’ve learned. Josh Bersin Institute: Retrieved March 18th from https://joshbersin.com/2018/11/we-wasted-ten-years-talking-about-performance-ratings-the-seven-things-weve-learned/#_ftn1

Capelli, P & Tavis, Anna (2016) Assessing Performance: The Performance Management Revolution. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved March 18th from https://hbr.org/2016/10/the-performance-management-revolution

Enderes, K., & Derunts, M. (2018). Seven Top Findings for Enabling Performance in the Flow of Work, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Kathi Enders (2018) Performance Management, Disrupted: Enabling Performance in the Flow of Work. Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Pulakos, E. D., Hansen, M. R., Cargill, A. S., Moye, N. (2015). Performance Management can be fixed: An on the job experiential learning approach for complex behavior change. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Vol 8(1), 51–76.

Rodgers, R., & Hunter, J. E. (1991). Impact of management by objectives on organizational productivity. Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 76(2), 322–336.

Smith, M. and Bititci, U. (2017), “Interplay between performance measurement and management, employee engagement and performance”, International Journal of Operations & Production Management, Vol 37(9), 1207-1228.

Related resources

Performance management 17 min read, hr analytics 11 min read, one on one meetings 15 min read, managing employees 17 min read, performance review template 10 min read, employee self evaluation 10 min read, performance management systems 7 min read, request demo.

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How to write a performance review.

writing performance reviews for employees

TL;DR: Many companies no longer opt for traditional employee reviews — yearly top-down feedback sessions tied to raises or dismissals are prone to being biased and counter-productive. Instead, modern, people-first organizations are tailoring reviews to company values and intentions, as well as employee strengths, goals, and needs. Employee-centric reviews support individual career development while driving alignment and business growth. That’s why it’s vital to understand what to highlight in a performance review.
💪 Performance reviews can be rewarding when done right Leapsome empowers you to deliver meaningful, effective reviews that develop your talent and boost feelings of belonging. 👉 Learn more

What’s an employee performance review?

An employee performance review — also known as performance evaluation or appraisal — is a formal assessment of a staff member’s performance within a certain period . During performance reviews, managers evaluate employee strengths and areas of growth, share actionable steps for improvement, ensure alignment with company goals, and communicate expectations. 

When run effectively, performance reviews:

Tejumade Adeyinka, Head of Growth at BuyCoins, shared her thoughts with us:

“I like getting reviews because it helps me develop my skill set and advance in my career. They’re written by my direct manager, my indirect manager, and my peers. Then, my manager and I develop a growth plan to help me in my weak spots and it’s done twice a year. It makes me feel seen.”

However, performance reviews still have a poor reputation among managers, employees, and people ops leaders. According to Gallup, only 14% of employees strongly agree that their appraisals motivate them to improve.

What does an effective performance review look like?

Indeed, there are many grim tales of employee reviews . Most complaints boil down to the way many managers write reviews without empathy or consideration for their report’s job description. In fact, only about 29% of employees feel the feedback they receive in reviews is accurate and fair. Women and BIPOC individuals are even more likely to receive low-quality and unactionable feedback than their white male counterparts, according to linguistics-focused software company Textio. 

Writing meaningful employee reviews requires empathy as well as a genuine desire to help employees grow and develop in their careers. It shouldn’t be about punishing lower-performing employees and rewarding high-achievers. 

A well-written performance appraisal form helps with employee retention and is part of any successful employee engagement model . Good reviews should:

🚀 Deliver performance reviews that drive engagement  Leapsome lets you celebrate your people and promotes rapid development. 👉 Learn more

Outline of a person sitting in front of a laptop

Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use this playbook.

This playbook aims to help managers write productive employee reviews that are transparent, fair, and growth-focused. People ops/HR professionals can also use this playbook to guide their people (especially first-time managers) on delivering great feedback via performance reviews.

Other review respondents (non-managers) also benefit from this playbook!

Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for this playbook, a system of mutual growth and development.

A culture that supports growth and development shows employees how feedback can help them improve. Companies that support employee growth will take time to understand their people’s career goals and provide development and training resources to help them achieve those goals.

A transparent and fair environment 

A transparent environment helps employees trust that performance reviews will be used for their development, and not for punishment. It encourages reports to engage in the review process.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie sie dieses people ops playbook durchführen:.

Now that we’ve discussed the benefits of conducting regular evaluations and shared some tips on how to do so effectively, let’s dig into how to write a performance review in six steps. ‍

1. Review your report’s current job description

Integrating an employee’s job description into their performance reviews gives you an accurate picture of their intended responsibilities and helps avoid incorrect or unfair assessments. It also gets everyone on the same page, drives transparency, reduces employee stress, and increases morale. ‍

2. Review past performance review data

Check past data like previous feedback and notes from 1:1 meetings to highlight where your report has improved, where they still need help, and where their performance is declining. This is not to punish them, but to follow their progress and provide support.

If this isn’t an employee’s first performance appraisal at your company, look at past reviews to gauge their overall performance, growth, and areas for improvement. Using a people management tool like Leapsome makes this step much easier. Also, documenting feedback is a great way to measure employee growth and performance for future reviews. ‍

3. Reflect on the aim of employee reviews

Reflect on why you’re writing this specific review in the first place. To decide who to reward or promote? To understand the development and growth of an employee? To see how each staff member contributes to your overall company objectives?

‍ Understanding the aim of evaluations will help you stay focused on providing a valuable experience to your employees while uncovering the best ways to improve the company . ‍

4. Discuss your aim with your report

Now, help your employees understand the purpose behind their appraisal — and be explicit that it’s development-focused rather than linked to pay. 

Development-centric reviews encourage a growth mindset and enable your people to take ownership of their careers . Instead of having staff members become frustrated with not meeting certain standards, motivate them by:

And before you start your performance review, you may also want to clarify the following with your employees for full transparency: 

5. Write objectively

How can you phrase your performance reviews to convey feedback clearly and accurately?

💡 Read our playbook on how to give constructive feedback to learn more.

6. Send out & discuss the reviews

You can hand out documents or printed versions of performance reviews, but the most effective and time-saving method (which will also help you analyze results) is to use a performance management tool like Leapsome.

And if you’re carrying out your employee appraisal in person or via video conference, use your performance review document to guide your conversation. You can even send it out to your report in advance so they can take a closer look at their strengths and areas for improvement and prepare any relevant questions. ‍

What a great performance review can achieve

A development-focused appraisal can guide your people in the right direction and show your commitment to their development. Some other benefits of an effective performance review include: 

You should not use employee reviews to…

Skills to assess during a performance review

Skills and qualities you should pay attention to during employee reviews include:

9 tips for effective performance reviews

We’ve put together a list of nine tips to help you conduct the review process in a way that improves performance, builds trust, and fosters engagement. ‍

1. Turn the review process into an open conversation

Performance reviews should be a dialogue as opposed to a lecture. That way, you can continuously clarify your understanding of issues, discuss improvement opportunities, and showcase your commitment to your report’s professional development . This creates a culture of transparency and trust and turns an otherwise intimidating process into a collaborative one. 

Some questions that invite discussion include:

And remember: be empathetic when writing reviews. We’re all human and make mistakes. ‍

2. Require employees to write self-assessments

A photograph of a person sitting behind a desk, working on their laptop.

Completing self-assessments ensures your reviews are collaborative rather than top-down. They can give you a better understanding of your reports’ perspective and help you empathize with them. Finally, they make your people feel more engaged, confident, and empowered within their roles. 

Here are a few other ways to make sure employees are actively involved in their performance reviews:

3. Disclose if reviews affect salary raises & layoffs

Good performance reviews help your people feel both supported and challenged. But in many organizations, evaluations are part of the criteria for salary and promotion assessments, which gives them an almost reproachful nature.  

And since decoupling employee evaluation and compensation isn’t always realistic, it’s important to communicate their link and its effect on your people. This fosters transparency and psychological safety.  

In your review, use your compensation plan as a guide to talk about any relevant salary raises, salary increments , professional growth opportunities, or layoffs. ‍

4. Run performance reviews frequently

Holding performance review meetings only once or twice a year creates unnecessary stress for your employees and blocks them from making continuous improvements . 

We recommend conducting monthly or quarterly evaluations to build a dynamic feedback culture and mitigate issues before they become tricky to resolve. This way, you can better understand your people, boost engagement, and clarify individual and company goals. ‍

5. Start with areas for improvement

A photograph of two people sitting on opposite sides of a desk, engaged in conversation.

Don’t save constructive feedback for the end of your appraisals. Talking about areas of growth right after highlighting strengths distracts employees from their wins . Instead, begin performance reviews by describing the issues that need to be addressed. Detail the situation and its impact, and present your perspective while listening to your team member’s side of the story.

Remember, for many people, constructive feedback still carries a negative — or even accusatory — connotation, instead of encouraging growth. So, if possible, get it out of the way first.

And always conclude your reviews on a positive note by showing your report you recognize and appreciate their contributions to the team and wider organization. ‍

6. Give specific examples

Feedback is only meaningful and actionable when followed by examples that outline the “what,” “when,” and “where” of the situation . Vague feedback is not only ineffective, but can also be perceived as judgmental and biased. As such, it’s more likely to make the recipient feel defensive instead of helping them improve. 

So, mention examples of when the team member did something well and when they didn’t — and don’t forget to provide context. Saying, “I feel sometimes you invest too much time scheduling meetings on less important topics,” isn’t precise enough. Specify instances where this happened to make it clear that your feedback isn’t a personal attack. ‍

⭐ Interested in reading more feedback and performance review examples? Our guide to 27 employee feedback examples & the right way to use them has got you covered.

7. Keep your biases in check

Be aware that by conducting a review, you’re effectively judging someone. And judgments are vulnerable to biases because humans are innately biased . A biased review is an incorrect assessment of someone’s performance and helps no one .

To help reduce your bias, do a bias reduction exercise before writing a review to prime your cognitive system and stay alert. ‍

💡 Check out our step-by-step playbook on how to avoid bias in performance reviews to learn more.

8. Choose your words with care

Avoid accusatory language, generalizations, and “you” statements when reflecting on your report’s assessment period. Instead, give specific examples of what did or didn’t go well.

And be mindful that no matter how accurate your comments are and how much context you provide, your assessment of another person’s work still reflects your opinion . So be honest about that fact and use sentences like “I feel that…” and “I think that…” to show empathy and open up a conversation. ‍

9. Tie feedback to actionable tips

A photograph of two colleagues at work looking at note pads and talking.

Sharing areas for improvement without providing next steps and key takeaways will leave employees feeling lost and unmotivated. So, when sharing constructive feedback, always make actionable recommendations.

Constructive feedback is a way to foster trust, ownership, and collaboration between employees. 

Follow-up best practices for employee appraisals

Have a development talk with your report.

Schedule a time to go through the review. Communicate clearly, be empathetic, and let your report know you’re available to answer questions — during and after the development talk. If you feel it’s needed, remind them their work is not a reflection of their worth and can be improved.

You should also use this time to create a development plan for and with your employee to guide their growth. It’s a good idea to prepare for this talk by researching courses and other learning resources to recommend to your report. You can also use a tool like Leapsome to set up individualized learning paths . ‍

Document employee reviews 

Document reviews in a centralized place (like a people management tool). This way, writing future reviews, tracking progress, and creating a learning plan for your report will be much easier.

Don’t just share feedback during reviews. Feedback should be ongoing and never catch the employee by surprise. Continuous feedback makes you more than a manager: You should be a coach to your reports. ‍

🚀 Interested in implementing reviews to boost employee performance and engagement? Check out our playbook on how to run a 360° review . 😉

Deliver impactful, growth-oriented performance reviews with Leapsome

Leapsome is the only platform that closes the loop between performance management, employee engagement, and learning.

In this playbook, you learned about the importance of employee performance reviews and how to conduct them effectively. Watch this video to learn more about filling out assessments using Leapsome’s performance review software . ‍ ‍

🚀 Give reviews that make a difference Leapsome gives you the tools to deliver growth-oriented performance reviews that increase engagement and improve performance. 👉 Request a demo

Frequently Asked Questions

Are employee performance reviews confidential.

Employees should have a right to the confidentiality of their employee reviews. Results should be kept between the manager and the report; however, managers may want to discuss it with people ops/HR or their own manager if they have concerns. This may be necessary, but should be done respectfully.

What questions should I ask in an employee review?

Download our free template with best-practice questions for employee reviews .

What are the main mistakes with employee performance reviews?

How often should employees get a performance review?

Besides running biannual 360° performance reviews for all employees, we recommend that you support new hires with structured feedback during their probation period (e.g., at 2 and 5 months for a 6-month probation period).

Should employee reviews be anonymous?

Performance appraisal feedback can be anonymous, but allowing for non-anonymous feedback gives people the chance to follow up.

Who should write an employee review?

Having only one respondent can lead to poor judgment. For a more accurate measure of employee performance, we recommend a holistic approach where peers, managers, and customers/partners review the same person. Some companies don’t include external contributors.

Explore other playbooks

Erkunden sie weitere playbooks.

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How to conduct performance review calibrations

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Blog Human Resources

21 Engaging Performance Review Examples [+ Tips From an HR Manager]

By Victoria Clarke , May 13, 2022


Performance review season can be a daunting period for both management and employees.

One-sided conversations, mixed messages and wordy documents leave both parties feeling like they have the same, stressful conversation each time.

But if you take the right approach, quarterly or annual performance reviews are an awesome opportunity to reinforce solid habits, redirect poor traits and drive professional growth for your employees.

In this post, I’ll give you tips from my own experience as an HR manager to make the performance review process a lot more painless, plus performance review examples you can customize now.

Performance review examples and advice:

What is a performance review.

Performance review examples and templates

Simple performance review examples

How to write a performance review

A performance review is a regulated assessment in which managers evaluate an employee’s work performance to identify their strengths and weaknesses, offer feedback and assist with goal setting.

The frequency and depth of the review process may vary by company, based on company size and goals of the evaluations. It could be annually:

performance review example annual review

Or quarterly, to name a few:

performance review example quarterly

Watch this quick, 14-minute video for performance review tips, templates and best practices:

This quarterly performance review example has sections for both achievements and areas of improvement. It also has a section for core values, as this must be a key performance indicator at this company. Different companies will have different measuring sticks for success.

performance review examples

Q: Can I customize the performance review templates in this post?

A: Yes, you can! All the templates are easy to edit. Some templates are free, some are paid.

Click any template and you’ll be asked to sign up for free. You’ll enter our online editor. Edit the text, apply your brand colors, add pages, upload your logo and more. Share a link for free.

Upgrade to our Plan for Professionals to download in PDF or PowerPoint format and access premium features and templates, such as real-time team collaboration and one-click branding.

Return to Table of Contents

Useful performance review phrases

Grappling with what to say at your next performance review? Choosing the right words is important to make the review as constructive as possible, not to mention motivating for your employee. Here’s a list of effective performance review phrases for managers and employees.

Performance appraisal comments for managers:

Performance review phrases for employees:

If you want to see a list of common skills you can comment on for your employees, check out this section .

To conduct an effective performance review, it’s important to deliver a positive and solution-focused message. This will be less discouraging to the employee.

This performance review example  shows how you can offer constructive feedback, while also praising the employee’s efforts. The majority of the sections focus on the employees’ achievements and strengths.

Suggested areas of improvement are positioned in the middle, letting managers cushion criticism with praise.

performance review examples

This appraisal example shows how managers can give constructive feedback to their employees by giving them clear direction on what things to keep doing and what actions to take in future.

While Felicia did not meet her goal, her manager acknowledges that the goal was set deliberately high and that 74 percent of the goal still has significant impact.

This employee review form also points to specific positive behavior, such as self-education, teamwork and a strong work ethic.

There are also specific recommendations for improvement, such as putting together a plan to get more press mentions and scaling her experiments.

performance review examples

Another way to do a performance review, or kick off the process, is to use a quadrant. Both the employee and manager can plot where they think the former falls on certain key values and build out discussion points from there.

You can change “get it done/get it right” in the employee review template below to “uphold core values/contribute to company culture” for example.

Employee Performance Review Quadrant Infographic Template

Self-performance review examples

In a self-performance review, employees assess themselves using the same rubric as their managers would and submit them to HR and/or their manager prior to their official review meeting.

The benefits of doing self-assessments have made them a common part of the employee review throughout many companies.

Self-assessments are an encouraging opportunity for employees to share their thoughts about their job, goals, desired responsibilities and aspects of either their role or environment that they may be struggling with.

Set employees up for success in the self-assessment process by giving them a robust employee evaluation form with thoughtful questions.

Annual self-evaluation employee review template

This first example is perfect for a thorough annual review. The targeted questions prompt the employee to reflect on their achievements and shortcomings, while also rating themselves on specific skill sets required for their job.

Annual employee self assessment example

The above employee self-assessment example allows for multiple sign-offs, plus a section to list colleagues who can back up the employee’s statements.

Yearly performance self-evaluation templates

A yearly performance self-evaluation isn’t just a great chance for employees to assess their past performance.

It’s also a way for employees to plan for their professional future as they can see where their strengths lie and what skills they need to build to move up in the company. An annual self-evaluation can also build an employee’s case for their compensation review.

This employee self-evaluation form is broken into sections that cover all these factors: about your job, achievements, goals and professional development .

Annual Employee Self-Evaluation Example

This yearly performance self-evaluation template has space to expand on goals met and alignment with core values, as well as skills they’d like to build in the future:

performance review examples

Self-assessment employee review forms

Many performance reviews are incredibly detailed. Sometimes, a higher-level overview is all that’s needed.

Quadrant evaluations, like the template below, are a great way for employees to do an assessment and for managers to quickly add their own evaluation, without getting into the weeds.

Employees can add what’s being evaluated in the easy-to-edit template below (instead of get it done/do it right). The employee adds an icon where they think they fall in the quadrant, and the manager does the same, with room on the last page to further break down the evaluation.

Sounds tough? Our real-time collaboration feature (part of the Business Plan ) lets both manager and employee work on the same doc online, leave comments, share private links and more.

Quadrant Performance Review Evaluation Report Template

The self employee review form below lets the employee write out their job description. That way, they can reference their deliverables in the Goals Achieved and Areas of Excellence sections and directly demonstrate their impact on the organization:

performance review examples

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Click any text box to change the words or the font. Choose from brand fonts (you can set this), template fonts or from our font library. There are plenty of modern options. This article on how to choose fonts can help you decide.

This self-performance review example gives employees the chance to reflect on their achievements on a quarterly basis.

This way, employees can demonstrate meeting quarterly goals. It can also give them a chance to reflect on their strengths and weaknesses and have a chance to act on them before their big annual review:

performance review examples

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Want to change the background colors? Click any section and then select a new color from the color picker tool. You can choose from a color from the color wheel, one of your brand colors (use My Brand Kit to set this up) or pre-set template colors. Or enter a HEX code if you want to get super specific.

performance review examples

Self-assessments also help enlighten managers of how employees understand their place within the company’s organization and culture.  

The information disclosed in self-assessments should serve as a major element of official performance reviews in order to ensure that both a two-way conversation occurs and that the needs of both parties are being met moving forward.  

To make for the most effective self-assessments, employees should be sure to consider how their managers’ perceptions of their performance varies from their own.  

With this in mind, the information shared in a self-assessment can guide or pivot a manager’s perception and assessment of an employee’s performance .

Quarterly employee performance review templates

Quarterly reviews are important because they provide multiple opportunities for employees to receive helpful feedback on how to improve as the year progresses.

This quarterly performance review example reflects on specific areas of improvement, such as scaling her experiments and developing content partnerships.

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Want to add a text box? Click “Text” in the left-hand navigation bar. Drag the text box you want onto the canvas (“Text” is good for body copy). Then, click the text box and start typing!

Quarterly reviews from Q1 to Q3 serve as a means of providing specific, deliberate feedback to employees so they know exactly how to improve on their goals and skills.  

This enables the final, annual evaluation conducted at the end of Q4 to serve as a final assessment that will have the most weight in determining how the employee will excel into the next year, discretionary bonuses, salary increases, etc.

Quarterly reviews offer a documented and tracked record of an employee’s progress throughout the year.

This means that each quarter should be assessed using the same rubric throughout the entire year. This will aid in ensuring an accurate representation of an employee’s development is recorded.

That means, if you use the below employee review template in Q1, you should also use it again in Q2 and Q3:

performance review examples

Quarterly employee review template

This quarterly review template is a more condensed version of the example above.

If you’d like to keep your quarterly reviews short and to the point, this template will suffice. Employers can then use the expanded version above for their annual review.

performance review examples

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Want to change the text? Click any text box to open the text toolbar above the canvas. From here, change the alignment and size, add bold or italic styling and add numbering or bullet points, too. It behaves just like any other text editor you’ve used before, so it’s simple to learn.

performance review examples

If you want a template that’s filled with useful information on the types of performance review phrases you can use for a quarterly review, you can edit the one below:

quarterly performance review template

Employee self-evaluation sample answers

It’s also important for employees to comment and reflect on their reviews.

They can both point out specific milestones that were missed:

And also to acknowledge areas of improvement:

dark quarterly performance review template

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Want to add your logo to the top of this template? Click the “My Brand Kit” tab in the editor. You can import your logo from your website. Drag and drop it onto the canvas. You’re done!

Annual performance review templates

At large organizations, there may not be enough resources in order to devote the time needed to conduct quarterly performance reviews for every employee.  

This is also true in the case of a supervisor who has a large number of direct reports working for them whereby time management is their main issue.  

In these situations, an annual performance review would work best, especially if the employees being evaluated are experienced in their line of work and have been with their company for a long time.

Annual employee performance review templates

In this employee review template, staff are evaluated on only four factors: ability, goals, areas of improvement, and core values:

performance review template

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Change the background quickly by clicking the “Background” tab in the left-hand navigation bar. Choose from your brand colors or pre-set template colors. Add a gradient or pattern, if you like. Click “Undo” at any time to fix a mistake.

Annual evaluations are typically geared towards determining employee raises and discretionary bonuses.  

Regular one-on-one meetings between direct reports and managers throughout the course of the year would be a great way to supplement this process.

This annual employee review template can simply include scores (out of 100 etc.) in each box. Or put notes in each section to explain the overall performance score.

performance review examples

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. You can move any element in our templates just by clicking it and holding. Drag the text box, column, row, image etc. to a new spot. Change the size by grabbing a corner of the bounding box and making it bigger or smaller. It’s as simple as drag and drop.

This being said, annual appraisals would need to take a more general approach to evaluating employees than just providing a summary of their performance over the year.

The following employee review template takes a graphic approach and neatly summarizes overall performance using a score out of 100 for factors such as adaptability and project quality:

performance review template

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. The charts in this template can easily be changed to fit your stats. Click any chart and our chart editor will open. For example, you could click the blue donut Aptitude chart and enter the number “60.” The chart will automatically adjust. It’s that easy.

Employee evaluation examples

Aside from the categories in the template above, there are a number of other factors that employers can use to evaluate performance.

Common performance review skills:

Even if you want to do a basic performance review, you should always include:

This performance review mind map shows the basics for setting up a simple yet effective performance review–from setting specific goals to soliciting employee feedback.

Simple Performance Review Mind Map Template

A simple performance review should still reflect the goals of your business’s performance review management system —and this will vary by company.

It’s important to understand the purpose of your assessment before determining what information will be required to assess in order to meet the goal.

For example, some smaller companies may use performance reviews throughout the year to track employees’ development and growth.

While other, larger companies may use performance reviews to summarize employee performance, help to calculate the priorities of the new year, adjust compensation or establish bonus amounts.

An HR checklist can come in handy to streamline the process.

Simple employee review template

Each of these simple employee review templates are easy to edit in our online editor. Customize the text to match your own criteria, add your brand colors, upload your logo, add or delete pages and then share a private link or download in PDF or PowerPoint formats ( Business Plan only ).

This template uses quadrants to see how employee and manager evaluations match. Or only use it for self-assessments or manager assessments.

Simple Multilevel Employee Performance Evaluation Infographic Template

Simple performance review template

This more traditional performance review template focuses only on big categories, like meeting goals, areas of excellence and areas of improvement.

performance review examples

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. Click the “My Brand Kit” tab to add your brand colors with one click (we’ll grab them automatically from your website). Or try one of our custom color palettes. Click “Shuffle” to try different color combinations.

Simple employee review form

The below form is an even more condensed version of the above. Use it for a quarterly review to keep things focused or even for an annual review to help you and your report stick to the most important points. Change the text to include your own categories of evaluation.

performance review template

How Do I Customize This Template? Click the template, sign up for free and enter the Venngage editor. If you need to add new text boxes, open the “Text” tab and drag a text box onto the canvas. The text box will resize as you type.

What’s the purpose of a performance review?

At Venngage, our people are at the core of everything we do as a business—whether it’s developing new features on our tool, growing our international reach or meeting customer needs.

With a people-focus within our company, we are passionate about continuous learning and improvement, self-reflection, creating great customer experiences , owning our jobs, teamwork and making our office feel like a second home

It should come as no surprise that our leadership team spends a considerable amount of time at the end of each quarter conducting performance reviews with each of their direct reports.

performance review examples

Here are some things we’ve learned about how to conduct effective performance reviews:

performance review examples

To make the most of the actual review conversation with your employee, it’s important to avoid:

performance review examples

Having an employee-friendly performance review process can not only make or break the development of your employees but also disrupt the relationship between managers and their reports.  

Beyond creating a robust performance review strategy and performance review form, managers must also consider their delivery of the appraisals. Communicating a performance review effectively is the final touch to executing a constructive, celebratory and effective review process.

performance review examples

When creating an effective assessment, it’s important to include the following:

Based on my involvement in building out our own effective performance review process at Venngage, I suggest taking the following steps into consideration when constructing a performance review:

1. Set expectations early

Early in an employee’s career with a company, managers should communicate the details of their review process including the expectations. It should be included in your employee handbook , for example.

In this way, managers set and communicate clear expectations of the key job functions and competencies of the role when an employee joins the company. The information presented in performance reviews should align with this define as well as use familiar language and terms. This strategy will work to eliminate any potential confusion or surprises for both parties.  

2. Don’t make it personal

Feedback is about actions and behavior, not the person.

When writing a performance review, it helps to take a look at the issue(s) you’ve included and ensure that they apply to actions and behavior of the employee rather than the personal attributes of said employee.

This will also help to regulate the information mentioned in the review, to guarantee it is relevant and appropriate information.

3. Beware of biases and limitations

While there may be a general ‘right’ way of doing things, there are often multiple — and equally good — ways to reach the same end goal.  

Please ensure your review is not biased or limited in favor of your personal work style and beliefs. Try to consider the various aspects of the employees role and experience that may impact their decision to pursue alternative methods or working habits. Be empathetic towards these factors when writing your review.

4. Be specific

The information presented in the review should be task-focused, clear and to the point.

General comments will leave an employee feeling confused and in the dark as to what aspect of their work needs to be corrected or how they can pursue improvements.  

Failing to be direct in your messaging will impact the way your message is received and create further confusion about what the expectations are. Managers should be specific on what behaviors of their employees they are celebrating and what actions require improvements.

4. Offer guidance

Managers play a critical role in understanding the career goals of their employees and crafting development opportunities to help their reports achieve their goals.  

It is important as a manager to offer your advice and expertise to your employees to help further their development.

If, as a result of the feedback given, the employee (or yourself) may feel as though they need additional training, consider the benefit of workshops, mentoring or coaching.  

Be sure to use performance reviews as a way to guide employees whether it is toward further greatness or for areas requiring some improvement.  

5. Follow up

Follow up in writing and check in continuously to ensure improvement.

Both managers and employees should receive a copy of the review to refer back to moving forward.

Whether reviews are scheduled annually or quarterly, they should be a continuous topic of discussion for both managers and employees. When writing a review, ensure that the review is clear and specific. Being mindful of this will help to ensure the employee can easily refer back to the form on their own after the meeting.

Related: How to Write a Performance Review That Inspires Growth (With Examples & Templates)

Create a performance review strategy before writing an employee’s review

Having an employee-friendly performance review process can not only make or break the development of your employees and but also disrupt the relationship between managers and their reports.

That’s why it’s crucial to create a robust performance review strategy and employee evaluation form before implementation to ensure the process is both constructive, celebratory and effective. This will even help you in the future if you choose to write a letter of recommendation for the employee as you’ll have all his performance reviews to reference.

By considering the six steps above when writing a performance review, you’ll have completed the final step in executing an employee-friendly review process.

The satisfaction gained from an increase in employee engagement and people power will make the effort expended on administering performance reviews entirely worthwhile, and ensure you have more effective reviews moving forward.

Take notes of the effective performance review phrases you can use during any of review sessions, as well as creating a visually appealing assessment using Venngage performance review templates. It’s free to get started.

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Employee Performance Reviews: Evaluating Work Progress

March 1, 2023

by Rob de Luca

employee performance reviews

In this post

How to write a performance review, tips for writing performance reviews for managers, how to improve your employee performance reviews, why write short performance reviews.

Performance reviews should be short or sweet, just like this article (I promise).

While employee performance reviews can be a smooth sail for employees, it is a rocky bend for employers.

Employers pack all their feelings into one lunchbox; appreciation, criticism, guilt, and respect. They go through a series of contemplations before holding that annual appraisal meet-up.

As soon as the year ends, employers take to their performance management system to put the year in a retrograde, evaluate employee performance with respect to HR goals and chart a future development or training plan.  

Clear the air between expectations and outcomes in a subtle way. Evaluation of performance is important, but the way you do it marks all the difference.  

In keeping with the theme, we’ll try to get right to the point. 

What are employee performance reviews?

Employee performance reviews are feedback or roundups given to employees after a specific time frame of service. Their immediate manager reviews an employee's progress, and the manager receives return feedback to complete the cycle. An increment or a promotion usually follows it. 

To ace your performance evaluation interview, exude the willingness to perform and improve. Performance speaks volumes, but the will to build on weaknesses is greater. No amount of written feedback can supersede that. However, as an employee, self-reviewing and critiquing yourself is the first step.

It sounds bullish to rate or elucidate your work performance over a specific timeframe. But hey, that's how the clock ticker moves around.  With the passage of time, all eyes go upon you, your work, and your progress. To prove your worth as a skilled professional, you would have to take the plunge.

Performance reviews can be shortened or lengthened based on the employee's preferences. It also depends on what period of the year you are writing a review in. If you're writing an annual review and feel like you have outshone your responsibilities, a well-suited dissertation works. If it is a weekly or a monthly check-in, oral verbiage sounds better than written feedback.

Following these practices will help you calm your inner trepidations and write stronger reviews:

What is performance appraisal? 

For a manager , employee reviews translate into a more complex amalgam of implicit and explicit organizational expenses. They chart a birds-eye view of an employee's performance and what the employee garnered in terms of the organization's ROI, job requirements, team success, and senior leadership team's (SLT's) expectations. 

If this is your first time providing feedback to employees as a manager, then embrace a few common tips to provide a holistic performance overview and avoid any micro-supervision. 

There is always a scope for improvement, whether you are a manager or an employee. Being firm and clear in the very first leg of the performance review cycle is not possible. Grave errors are imminent but can be debugged as you learn and persevere.

Being on the same page and conquering the concerns of another peer are ideal ways to deal with mistakes. Your employees might be very sensitive to what the management thinks of them, and vice versa. One wrong move can destroy the rapport, so peddle on carefully. 

1. Ask fewer questions

We’ve seen employee review templates that go on for pages. It can take an hour or more to fill one out, so it’s easy to see why doing so for a dozen or more employees would fill managers with dread, not to mention decision fatigue .

Instead of asking more questions, consider what you really want to know and cut the number of questions down to half a dozen or fewer.

2. Limit your responses

Asking fewer questions doesn’t solve anything if you get essays in return. Try asking for a single, specific thing: the employee’s most recent "win" or a short list of bullet points. You can limit word counts and use multiple-choice questions in which the reviewer picks the closest matching response. 

3. Assess more frequently

Recency bias , the tendency for people to focus on recent issues, is a big issue in employee performance reviews. Why not work with it instead of against it? When reviews are done quarterly instead of annually or semiannually, managers can feel free to focus on what they really remember (the last three months) instead of trying to encapsulate an entire year of ups and downs. 

4. Stop relying on numerical scoring

People aren’t easy to quantify, and by asking for numerical scores, you’re asking reviewers to form and retain their own internal translation of what your rating system means. For example, on a five-point scale, a three could mean “barely adequate,” “about average,” or “I have no opinion one way or another.” But if you replace or pair numbers with actions, like, “(5) I’d do everything in my power to keep Gary on the team," you’ll know that the scale is consistent for every employee.

5. Get peer feedback at the same time

Nobody knows employees better than their coworkers. Adding peer feedback to reviews is a great way for managers to see more clearly at the ground level, and it makes for a much less stressful load on managers of large departments. One or two questions applied with the same attention to brevity and specificity as your reviews are all it takes to grant insights that a supervisor might never see otherwise.

More isn’t always better, and that’s especially true for the questions you include in employee performance reviews. The trick to getting the most out of your employee reviews is to simplify the format and increase the frequency. 

1. They're easier: Short reviews take less time to perform and less time to read. That makes them easier on managers and employees alike, allowing you to do them more often. 

2. More frequent reviews are more topical: Fresh and important is better than stale and trivial. The more frequently you perform employee performance reviews, the more likely you are to cover issues that are fresh in the employee’s mind. With less space for tangents, you’ll discuss what really matters.

3. Subjectivity is a review’s worst enemy: You don’t want opinions; you want facts. When questions are vague, and answers are open-ended, they leave more room for personal relationships and value judgments to enter the fray. On the other hand, direct, specific questions about accomplishments and shortcomings make it easier to spot subjectivity and eliminate it from your assessments.

4. They aid engagement: Millennials are rapidly taking over the bulk of the workforce, and surveys show they love not only avocado toast but also constant feedback . Short, quarterly reviews, especially combined with monthly 1:1 check-ins, deliver that always-on channel of critique and validation. That leads to higher engagement and an even better employer brand for your organization.

Congratulations on making it this far! 

It is time to look at your performance review from a different angle and spread the sparkles of love and care among your longing employees.

Addressing the issues calmly does more than save time and money; it makes the entire process more effective while simultaneously changing the negative perception of reviews for employees, managers, and entire organizations.

Set a strong foundation in the recruitment industry by establishing a strong company culture and beating up against the odds.

This article was originally published in 2019. It has been updated with new information

performance management software

Cheering from the crowd!

Build, monitor and shape your employee's work character to the best of their interest with performance management software.

Rob de Luca photo

Rob de Luca is the senior copywriter for BambooHR . He believes HR professionals and others deserve information-rich content that enables them to do great work, and he has written extensively on the topics of HR leadership and best practices.

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