A Guide to the Perfect Employee Performance Review

Employee Performance Review
Created by Cake

Whether you are new to a job or a veteran in your position, you will likely encounter regular performance reviews. Employers conduct performance evaluations to assess their employees’ progress, offer feedback, and make adjustments. Performance appraisals are also used to evaluate a raise. Employee reviews help keep everyone on task and give both management and employees a chance to verbalize their needs. 

There are different types of performance reviews for different positions or the length of employment. Someone new to a job might have weekly employee evaluations during their probation period. Monthly performance reviews might be necessary for positions with sales quotas or commissions. Quarterly and year-end reviews are more common for workers who have been in their role for a longer period and are used for the purpose of establishing a raise. 

Performance reviews are an important part of company culture across different industries, and they are useful for both the employer and the employee.

What Is an Employee Performance Review?

A performance review is an assessment performed by management about an employee’s work performance since their last meeting. It could cover a variety of topics related to the position. The process of a performance appraisal can include a two-way discussion as well as some performance review questions. There is typically an employee evaluation form involved, and the employee can also fill out a self-assessment questionnaire.  

Performance reviews are common tools in the workplace, as there are many benefits to conducting regular employee reviews.

Here are a few advantages to systematic performance evaluations. 

✅ Align personal goals to business goals

A performance review gives management and employees an opportunity to discuss their goals. Employees naturally have their own personal vision and career objectives, and they might feel that their current role is incompatible with their needs. Management and employees can use performance evaluations to make sure they’re in harmony.

✅ Help improve both the employer and the employee

Companies use performance reviews to identify issues that can be addressed on both sides. It could be the employee needs more support in their position, and adjustments can be made. Neither party can make changes without first discussing the areas of improvement, so performance appraisals are vital. 

✅ Help the employee with career development

An employee performance review is a chance for management to discuss the employee’s career goals and see how they can help. When employees are content and making progress towards their goals, they tend to stay and contribute more to their company. An employer can use a performance review to identify how they can help the employee achieve their purpose. 

✅ Provide a chance to reward good performance

Performance reviews don’t need to be negative or stressful. A performance evaluation is an opportunity for the employee to emphasize their accomplishments, and the company can use a performance review to highlight what the employee has done well. Companies and employees also use performance evaluations to negotiate a raise. 

✅ Encourage open communication

It can be difficult for workers and management to discuss their needs and concerns without causing tension. A performance review is a chance to talk openly about changes that should be made or goals that haven’t been reached. An employee performance appraisal is a safe space to air grievances and discuss issues. 

Employee Performance Appraisal Form Template

If you are unsure of what elements to include in a performance review, the following is a basic guide that can be used as an employee review template. 

It’s important to customize any performance appraisal template to fit the exact needs of your company. Some sections may not apply to the role you’re reviewing, while other important qualities could be missing.

  • Basic Information
    • Date
    • Reviewer
    • Review period
  • Employee Information
    • Name
    • Position
    • Manager
  • Responsibilities
    • Employee’s current tasks
  • Skill Rating
    • Efficiency
    • Teamwork
    • Leadership 
    • Independence
    • Punctuality 
    • Reliability
    • Communication
    • Consistency
  • Goals
    • Has the employee met goals from the last review period?
    • Performance goals for the next review period 
  • Areas of Improvement
  • Comments 

Performance Review Question Examples

It’s important to have some questions prepared in advance for the performance review, to avoid forgetting anything relevant. Good performance evaluation questions are also necessary to set the right tone. 

Here are some employee review example questions to help you nail your next performance appraisal:

  • What accomplishments are you proud of during this review period?
  • Is there anything you need from management to make your role more efficient?
  • What skills would you like to build during the next review period?
  • What are your goals for the next quarter?
  • What do you like least about your position?
  • What do you think is the best part of working for this company?
  • What can management do to improve our relationship with you?
  • How does your position contribute to our success as a team?
  • Do you see yourself in this role in a year? 
  • What would you like to change about your role?
  • How did your team help you succeed during this review period?
  • What would your teammates say about their latest interactions with you?
  • How can I support you to achieve your next performance goals?
  • Is there any thing you wish you had done differently during this review period?
  • What motivates you in this role?

Performance Evaluation Tips

Performance reviews require attention and care to get right. A performance appraisal can make an employee feel valued if done well or frustrated if not. Here are some tips to ensure your performance review is successful and smooth for everyone.  

✨ Be clear about the purpose and the evaluation process.

It’s important to inform the employee what the purpose of the performance review is to avoid any unnecessary anxiety. Be clear about why they are being evaluated and what the review process entails. Is it one brief conversation? Do they need to prepare a self-evaluation form? Be specific about what they can expect from their employee performance evaluation. 

✨ Chose a suitable rating system.

During a performance review, you need a scale to measure an employee’s success and skills. Your performance appraisal scale could be numerical, or it could be a spectrum ranging from ‘needs improvement’ to ‘excellent.’ 

✨ Set SMART goals.

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. During a performance review you will likely discuss the employee’s performance goals, and together you can set objectives that follow the SMART system. For example, setting a goal of increasing the employee’s monthly sales numbers isn’t specific or measurable, and therefore impossible to meet. 

✨ Provide detailed feedback with specific examples.

It’s helpful to be specific when you are doing a performance review. Ambiguity can confuse or frustrate your employee. Feedback like “I think you should be more of a team player” is much less effective than “I’d like to see you communicating with your team at least once a day.” Specific feedback is easier to follow and makes a performance review clearer. 

✨ Make it motivational.

Performance evaluations can feel uncomfortable, especially if some of the feedback is perceived as negative by the employee. It’s helpful to strike a more motivational tone for your performance review, so they are inspired to keep working on themselves. A good appraisal example is “your sales numbers are up from your last review and I’m very happy with your progress.”

✨ Be encouraging.

A performance review should be more encouraging than critical. Even if the employee needs some help, it’s best to focus on what they can do to succeed, rather than what they haven’t been doing. Emphasize the good qualities they have or their accomplishments. An example of positive feedback for your employee is “you’ve shown a lot of progress this quarter” instead of “you still have some room to grow.”

Phrases Not to Use in a Performance Review

Performance reviews can be tense and stressful for everyone. There are some expressions that could derail a performance evaluation and leave the employee with a negative impression. For a successful performance review, avoid the following phrases. 

❌  “I don’t really have any feedback, good job.”

This gives the employee the impression that you haven’t put much thought into their performance or the employee review. It’s important to make space in your performance evaluation for both praise and constructive criticism, and without it your employee can feel like you don’t care. 

❌  “I’m disappointed with your performance.”

This performance evaluation example is too vague, and it also doesn’t give the employee a chance to explain their side. To create a more open, safe space for your performance review, ask questions instead of passing harsh judgement. 

❌ “You never hand your work in on time.” 

When you’re going through an employee performance review, avoid the use of the word “never”, since it’s hyperbolic and can make your employee feel attacked. 

❌  “You could have done this better.”

This performance review example doesn’t work because it gives no details or information. It’s best to be specific in your feedback during an employee evaluation. It also doesn’t inform the employee what they can change going forward. 

❌  “If you keep going like this, there’s a promotion in your future.” 

Try to avoid making promises during an employee review. It could affect their performance and you can’t know where that employee will be down the road. 

❌  “You should be more careful with the tone you take.” 

Warnings and “you should” statements can come off harsh in a performance review. It’s also important to avoid making these types of statements to female employees, since it’s the kind of thing that is more often directed at women and tends to sound biased. 

❌  “I’ve heard some complaints about your work ethic.” 

Telling the employee that their coworkers or management have been talking about them creates a hostile work environment. It also implies that you personally haven’t seen what they’ve done wrong and can make the performance review feel more like a witch hunt. 

❌  “You’re doing much better than the rest of the team.” 

Although this employee performance review example sounds positive, you shouldn’t compare your employee to their coworkers, regardless of tone. It can create a work environment that is too competitive or resentful. The performance review is about that one employee’s performance, and no one else’s. 

❌  “You’re always late.” 

Like “never” statements, you should avoid using the word ‘always’ in performance evaluations, because it likely isn’t true. It can also make the employee feel like your performance appraisal is unfair. 

❌  “I’d like to see you be less bossy.” 

This employee feedback example doesn’t work because it criticizes personality characteristics instead of behaviours. Elaborate on actions the employee took and not their traits, since those are internal and subjective. This is another criticism more often directed at women and should be avoided in a performance review. 

🔑 Key Takeaways

Performance reviews can be stressful for everyone involved, but they don’t need to be a negative event. A successful performance evaluation is one where the reviewer gives specific, constructive feedback. Think of some questions to ask the employee and use an employee performance review template as a starting point for your evaluation.

Review some performance evaluation phrases to avoid and think carefully about what you will say. If you treat an employee appraisal as an opportunity to discuss goals and reward progress, your next review will be smooth and successful. 

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--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---

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