How to Write the Best Employee Performance Appraisals

by Lisa McQuerrey

    An employee performance appraisal can help you connect with your employee, give him feedback on what he’s doing well, and provide tips for ways he can improve. For the best results, appraisals should be standardized for all employees and should allow time for employee feedback and performance discussion.

    Create a form with evaluation criteria that you can use for all employee performance appraisals. You might opt to use a rating system for ranking various areas of performance, for example, by ranking “poor” to “exceptional.” Alternatively, you can employ a numerical system using the same approach. Use categories such as performance of job functions, goal achievement, teamwork, communication, reliability, customer service and any other measurements or categories that pertain to your industry.

    Complete the form before you meet with your employee. Under each category rating, write personal comments to demonstrate why you gave the score. For example, under teamwork, you might write, “Great collaboration with other department members, well respected by colleagues.” If the staffer has a problem with tardiness, you might comment on his reliability by saying, “Often late for shift, which can negatively impact colleagues who have to stay later to cover duties.” During the assessment, you can applaud the positives and discuss ways to improve the negatives.

    If you set goals with your employee, the performance evaluation is the place to discuss progress. Ask your staffer to give you a goal progress report before the evaluation so you know where he stands and can include an assessment on your written form. If goals were met, write the evaluation with accolades for a job well done and suggest new goals for the coming assessment period. If goals were unmet, write an evaluation of things the staffer could have done differently, such as better time management or prioritization of tasks.

    The final section of the evaluation should be written in coordination with your employee during the in-person appraisal, though you can fill in suggestions in advance. Develop an action plan for moving forward, building on successes and finding ways to improve deficiencies. For example, an employee who exceeds sales goals might be challenged to higher levels of performance and given a more competitive bonus structure to go with increased earning goals. A staffer who struggled with getting everyday tasks completed on schedule might be counseled on workplace efficiency tips and be required to give you project task management reports every week so you can assess progress.

    About the Author

    Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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