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Kate Devyatkina

CEO at 100pcnt

August 27, 2019How to

Essentials for Managers on How to Write Performance Review

Creating performance evaluations for everyone who reports to you can be tough. In this article, I’m going to provide performance review examples. Whether your organization has annual or quarterly performance reviews, it's important to be as thoughtful as possible along with it trying to articulate in detail what your employees or team members are bringing to the table.

Whether this is your first time or you know a lot about employee performance reports, this process can be exhausting and straining. This is the main reason that there are so many lists of performance review examples here.
Most managers can help you get started by providing you with certain action words and phrases, but they may not be particularly helpful when you have to figure out the formula for efficient performance conversations. Sometimes this only serves to get you caught in a loop of choosing performance review phrases such like "creative solutions" or "team player" that don't have much to do with your employees' performance.

Instead of giving you a list of numerous performance review templates, we're going to take you through several specific examples, and explain exactly why they do or don't work. After reading this article you’ll be full of new ideas about how you can frame these points in your performance review for employees.

  • Successful performance review knowledge

    Performance reviews are more than just lists of words about an employee.

    It should be a constructive conversation where you can give either positive or negative feedback about a person's performance, provide a clear vision of their development, and help them to set goals. The performance review example will show that they are not purely for critique and are not going to resolve every issue with an employee's performance. Both parties, manager and employee, should go in with a kind, positive attitude.

    Essentials for Managers on How to Write Performance Review - 1 - Photo

    These are tools composed of several different components:
    - Evaluation phrases. A key to a successful employee performance evaluation sample is your way of describing direct reports. Rather than using generalized statements or common talking points, be precise, connecting employee actions with their outcomes and giving specific examples. Make sure your evaluations are accurate.
    - Template questions. Samples of performance appraisal wording that review managers often use to evaluate each employee on the same ground can make or break a manager's review. Vague questions or ones that don't relate to job functions are a waste of time that make it difficult to evaluate employees in a proper way. 

    - New goals. The performance review process should be completed in several steps to help employees consider their career goals and to develop. You need to be thoughtful and to treat the employee as an individual — common “bigger results” won't motivate them to reach their full potential.

  • Performance review examples: template questions

    When done right, an important part of any performance review process is an evaluation of an employee's performance with the help of a series of standard questions. These surveys can help shape the types of feedback managers provide you with and also help your organization to streamline evaluation.
    That's why taking your time standardizing a customizable performance review sample for your organization (or department) is a great way to formulate more efficient manager reviews and conversations about an employee's performance. 
    When you set appropriate criteria, you need to ask specific questions on how they are fulfilling their job description without putting words in a manager's mouth. 

    Essentials for Managers on How to Write Performance Review - 2 - Photo

    Keys to sample performance reviews questions:
    - Questions are limited in scope
    - Questions have a clear set of answers
    - Questions don’t rely on unclear or subjective evaluations; Should be measurable
    - Questions are related to specific goals or job functions
    Let's look at a sample questions from a performance review and break down why they are or aren’t effective. At the end, you should have the knowledge you’ll need to carefully craft your own questions.Bad: Is this employee good enough to be on the team?

    The first thing to be noticed is that the wording of “good enough to be on the team” is rather subjective. Is every single person good enough to be on the team at all times? Most team leaders would say no, yet most employees are effective team players. This means that this question is not a great performance evaluation example question.
    Bad: Does this employee improve the team through their contributions and attendance?

    The thoroughness might seem appealing in contrast to the previous question, but this packs in too much and is way too broad. Participation, presentations, and attendance shouldn’t be all be covered in one question.
    Good review example question: Does this team member contribute to his/her team by praising effectively and communicating constructive feedback?

    This is a better question. It is aimed at a specific trait (giving feedback and praise) — that directly influence employee's contributions to the whole team. There are two parts of this question, and it could also be split up into a multiple choice question.

    More good example performance review questions:

    - Does an employee meet project deadlines that he/she spearheads?
    - Does an employee manage their customer communication effectively?

  • Performance review templates for: evaluation phrases

    When you are about to write a performance review, you need to know what to write about your employees and how to write it. Much like a CV, employee reviews often rely upon action words (shows, displays, improves, etc). It's great to have a few of these at hand, but they are not the be-all of writing the proper employee performance review (feedback example for manager). What you write about an employee makes a difference in their career path and in their experience of the work environment. It’s better to take time to understand what makes a good statement about your employee and why. It not only helps them, but also helps you.

    Example of performance evaluation phrases. Keys:
    - Use specific examples to back up claims
    - Directly tie an employee's actions to their outcomes
    - Think of your statements as starting points to elaborate on
    - Avoid sweeping language, it reflects a biased impression

    Let's look at a few example phrases from performance reviews and see how they are reflected in the work.
    Bad: Never on time to meetings

    Extreme expressions like “never” or “always” are rarely true and are hard to back up (do you really have a detailed report on attendance?) with evidence, which can damage employees’ engagement and make them feel singled out. Although repeated actions and behavior may seem like always, your points can be made in a less inflammatory and more specific way.
    Good employee’s performance feedback example: Frequently late to 1:1 meetings with manager and project meetings with teammates

    This is a better way to talk talk about repeated actions or behavior. It's more objective, more specific, and also allows space for elaboration. How does the manager find out that the employee is usually late to project meetings? Was there any discussion of showing up late to check-ins or 1:1s, and has the behavior changed since then? This opens a space to discussion of the reasons behind an employee's behavior.

    More good performance review examples:
    - Shows a desire to learn and develop by participating in optional seminars
    - Doesn’t take on additional responsibilities, takes a passive approach to development

    Essentials for Managers on How to Write Performance Review - 3 - Photo

    Performance goal examples:
    Reviews are more than the sum of the preparation work and the writing. They're also about meetings, and the subsequent 1-on-1 with employees to develop and engage them by setting new goals. The way goals are set is also important. If the goals are well-constructed, they provide constructive and clear feedback that leads to empowerment and finally to the moment when employees feel supported in improving their performance.

  • Keys to goal setting:

    - Give employees concrete steps to take to reach their new performance goals
    - Help employees understand how to work on their weaknesses
    - Make employees accountable for their improvements without hovering
    - Be aware that you will need to tailor goal setting to what works for each employee

    Here is an example of a performance review's goals for the employee:
    Bad: Feel more comfortable presenting

    This goal is too common and doesn't give the employee an action plan. Of course, an employee who is struggling with presentations wants to improve this skill. Simply pointing this out doesn't help them solve the problem.
    Good: Practice team presentations in front of one of the team members before each presentation

    This is a much better constructed goal because it helps the employee to understand how to achieve the desired result by pointing out the area of improvement and suggesting a way to tackle this problem. 

    Essentials for Managers on How to Write Performance Review - 4 - Photo

    More good performance evaluation samples:
    - Spends 3 hours a week reading about ... and preparing a presentation for the next week
    - Talks to other employees about their follow-up email scripts and creates brand new templates to warm up more leads this month

    As you sow, so shall you reap

    Performance reviews only work if you do. Annual performance reviews are hard to get right and require a lot of thought on the part of the human resources department or the review manager. Reducing them to a list of short phrases is not helpful in helping you evaluate your direct reports or develop your employees. These will ultimately influence the progress of organizational goals. 

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