Expert Tips When Writing a Performance Review

Writing a performance review is a source of stress for many business owners and managers. It happens every year, but it can feel awkward or harsh to boil your employees down to an evaluation on a sheet of paper.Expert Tips When Writing a Performance Appraisal

If done right, however, the performance review can be beneficial both to you and your employees. Here are some things to consider to make sure your reviews are meaningful and not just a routine to be followed.

Before the Performance Review

It’s essential that you create a custom evaluation form that’s especially suited to your business. You can look for existing forms for inspiration, but chances are no pre-made form out there will be able to capture the nuances of your business or what you value in an employee.

I recommend using a scoring system of 5 or 7 options to rate performance. In my experience, 3 just isn’t enough.

Before you start writing a job performance review, rank all of your employees from top to bottom.  I recommend that you rank them using current performance and also by future potential. Your review scores should follow a bell-shaped curve accordingly close to the way you ranked their current performance. Beware, we all tend to score everyone the same. Spread them out even when you don’t want to.

Ask your people to fill out a self-assessment before you schedule their in-person review. They will probably score themselves lower than you will, and if they don’t, that’s an opportunity to reset their viewpoint.

The other exciting thing that happens is that you will probably forget all of their accomplishments as soon as you sit down with them, so the self-review will help you remember.

Writing a Performance Review

When writing a performance review for your employees, score their performance objectively. Be honest even though it may create conflict or uneasiness. You aren’t doing yourself or your teammates any favors by being overly generous when you know there’s room for performance improvement.

Back up any negative feedback with specific examples or facts so that the employee doesn’t feel unfairly targeted. Be very clear about what they need to accomplish or change to receive a higher score or to be considered for future opportunities.

During the Performance Review

While a review should be a conversation, don’t let your agenda get hijacked. You are reviewing their performance, not the other way around.

Always include a discussion about their personal goal achievement and be sure to hold them accountable. This meeting is an opportunity to learn your employees’ ambitions and to encourage them to grow in your company.

Performance reviews are not beauty pageants. The objective is to give honest, straightforward and helpful feedback. Still, it helps to end on a positive note so that no employee leaves the room feeling attacked.

Before the end of the evaluation, set up a follow-up meeting and ensure that it’s on the calendar.

Writing performance reviews is an art that every business owner can learn to master. Click on my contact form, and we can chat about how to make the most out of your company’s performance reviews and to achieve the ultimate goal; improve their performance.


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Dave Schoenbeck

Dave Schoenbeck is a professional business and executive coach who translates complex business methods, processes, and strategies into actionable plans to dramatically improve financial results. Read more about Dave here.
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