How to Write Performance Appraisal Comments

by Lisa McQuerrey

    Performance appraisals are helpful for both managers and employees in that they provide honest assessments about someone's work performance. As a manager, you’re charged with providing positive feedback for a job well done, while simultaneously pointing out deficiencies and helping employees set attainable goals and objectives for the coming assessment period.

    Appraisals are only effective when a straightforward and consistent approach is taken. To streamline the employee evaluation process, use a standardized template or format that allows you to rank key areas of performance on a scale ranging from “needs improvement” to “exceptional.” This allows you to check off accomplishment levels per category and follow up with comments of praise or suggestions for improvements. It also helps maintain uniformity in the way all staffer performances are evaluated.

    Attempt to start and end each performance evaluation on a positive note. This helps maintain employee morale and demonstrates that you have a genuine appreciation for the positive strides and accomplishments each staffer makes during the assessment period. Use phrases such as, “successfully implemented,” “made significant progress toward,” and “exhibited significant teamwork efforts.” Even if an employee struggles in some areas, highlight her positive contributions. These might include maintaining a good attitude, encouraging colleagues and volunteering for tasks and responsibilities no one else wants. Let her know she is a morale booster and good team player.

    In most performance evaluations, there are areas where an employee needs improvement. Be specific in pointing out areas of deficiency and issue specific directives for how improvements should be made. For instance, if an employer regularly misses deadlines, be sure to provide examples. Write a brief overview of instances in which deadlines have been missed and the corresponding problems this created for other staffers. Follow with instructions for improving performance, such as, “participate in a time management training program and submit future materials 48 hours in advance of final deadline.” This tells the employee what the problem is as well as the expectations for resolving it.

    Most employee performance evaluations end with setting new goals and objectives for the next assessment period. The more detail you provide in writing about these new parameters, the better the potential for success. Be specific in describing how you expect efforts to improve, new responsibilities to be implemented and how future performance will be measured.

    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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