11 Best Tips for Writing Performance Reviews

Performance appraisal review is a powerful communication tool for organizations to recognize the contribution of high performing employees. It also allows organizations to provide constructive feedback to employees whose performance is not according to the standard set by the upper management.

An effective performance appraisal review is simple, accurate, and powerfully reinforcing. When developing employee performance appraisals, the management should use the correct performance appraisal phrases that encourage employees to improve their performance and contribute in achieving overall objectives of the organization.

Performance appraisal reviews provides an opportunity to the management and bosses to communicate both the good and the bad aspects of each employee. The intention is to encourage employees to continue their positive performance while taking steps to improve negative performance that is not according to the standards set by the organization.

While conducting verbal performance review interviews with employees is important, yet it is not enough in itself. Management should also prepare a written appraisal review of each employee that communicates performance of the employee in an effective manner.

General Guidelines for Writing Effective Employee Performance Reviews

The success or failure of the performance review rests on how clearly expectations and feedback are communicated to the employees. While writing a performance review the management should avoid criticizing the employees.  The emphasis should be on performance of the employee and the steps that the employee should take to improve his or her performance. In effect the management should consider the following tips in preparing an effective performance appraisal review of the employees.

  • The formal appraisal review should provide feedback to the employees on performance issues that need improvement.
  • The performance appraisal review should be specific about the areas that need improvement. It should provide constructive feedback to the employees so that they can take corrective steps to improve their performance.
  • Performance appraisal review should recognize the accomplishments of the employees.
  • Instead of using terms such as “good” or “superior”, performance appraisal review should be neutral. This includes listing what the employees did well and how it contributed in achieving overall organization objective.
  • The formal performance appraisal review should be holistic and cover every aspect of the employees’ performance.
  • The performance review phrases should contain such words as “exhibits”, “demonstrates”, “grasps”, “generates”, “manages”, “monitors”, “achieves”, “possesses”, and other action oriented words that accurately describe how well each did.
  • Ken Lloyd, author of Performance Appraisals & Phrases For Dummies advices that the formal employee appraisal form should contain the following performance review phrases to accurately depict performance of the employees:
    • Leadership: responsiveness, decisiveness, accessibility, teamwork
    • Interpersonal Skill: cooperation, teamwork, empathy, persuasion
    • Planning and Organization: prioritization, setting goals, profit orientation
    • Quality of Work: productivity, thoroughness, achieving goals
    • Attitude: loyalty, flexibility, initiative, dedication, volunteering, reliability
    • Knowledge and Skills: Skill building, career planning, learning, education advancement
    • Ethics: honesty, integrity, fairness, professionalism, diversity, sustainability
    • Creativity: receptiveness, originality, innovation, problem solving

Tips on Writing Performance Improvement Plans (PIP)

The management prepares a Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) for employees whose performance is found to be below par during the performance appraisal review. This plan gives an employee a chance to improve his or her performance before the management takes stringent action against the employee for substandard performance. The following tips will help in preparing an effective performance improvement plan for employees.

  • A Performance Improvement Plan should clearly identify the performance areas that need to be improved by the employee.
  • It should provide clear outcomes about the work or behavior that the employee must change to bring it in line with the company standard.
  • It should establish a plan to review and provide effective feedback to the employee at appropriate internals.
  • It should clearly convey possible consequences in not meeting performance standards identified in the plan.

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