Performance appraisals are an integral part of the whole performance management process. As much as a majority of employees dread the idea of having to sit through performance reviews, they actually provide useful and valuable feedback.

The performance appraisal process provides HR professionals, companies and employees with an excellent opportunity to assess overall progress, performance, work objectives and both short-term and long-term goals.

However, despite the effectiveness of an appraisal system, it can be quite difficult for organizations and companies to get these appraisals right. There’s always a standing debate as to what makes a good performance appraisal. This is primarily why every business has their own method or approach towards writing a performance appraisal to determine an employee’s performance.

Top Performance Appraisal Methods

At the same time, though, some degree of standardization is vital in the performance appraisal process. With the right method or approach, managers can write superior performance appraisals and can pave the way towards goal setting and increased performance for the team members.

Take a look at some of the most actionable and modern performance appraisal methods that are used in many organizations nowadays.

360-Degree feedback

This is a multidimensional annual review method that evaluates employee performance and growth based on feedback collected from multiple raters through an online questionnaire. The raters typically involve the employee’s peers, managers, customers/clients, subordinates, superiors and direct reports.

A key benefit of the 360-degree feedback method is that it eliminates bias in the review process and ensures maximum transparency to ensure effective performance analysis.

Management By Objectives (MBO)

This performance appraisal method involves employees and managers where they work together to organize, plan and communicate different goals and objectives. Once the goal-setting process is done with, they move on to discuss how achievable and practical those objectives followed by regular meetings where both discuss the progress made so far.

Assessment Centre Method

As the name implies, this performance review approach assesses an employee’s performance in social-stimulation exercises or social situations such as fact-finding exercises, role-play, decision-making problems or informal discussions, to name a few.

The aim of these exercises is to highlight an employee’s potential success in different responsibilities and roles. A major advantage of this method is that it provides managers and HR professionals a great understanding of an employee’s personal characteristics such as adaptability, judgment, ethics, tolerance levels, collaboration and many others.

Tips for Writing A Superior Performance Appraisal

Performance reviews aren’t just about the kind of review method employed by managers, but also about how they write them.

Every organization may have its own take or approach on writing a performance appraisal, but there are a few general tips that managers must keep in mind when writing one.

Define Your Purpose before Reviewing the Employee

This is the most crucial “know-how” for your performance review (PR) preparation. As a manager, you do not have the time to simply waste at a meeting. You must know what you hope to achieve from your effort. It’s obvious that you are reviewing the employee: you will tell them their strengths, their weaknesses and help them improve.

The question is, improve for what?

How will these improvements help your organization meet its strategic goals, increase retention rate, and/or keep its talent pool (the employees) market competitive in the future? If you simply keep “boosting performance” as the central theme for your PR effort, chances are you’ll end up working on managing the compensation process at your company and not the performance process.

Keep the Compensation and Employee Review Separate

You have to shift the focus during the PR from compensation management to performance management. The easiest way to do that is to break the follow up into quarterly checkups, and inform the employees of it.

Explain at the beginning that you will be doing both performance reviews and compensation separately — the later going to the HR. Show them that you want to help them improve and excel at their job and career. Separating both the processes will reduce the stress for both you and the employee.

Collaborate with Your Employee during the Review

To have an excellent review, you must work together with your employee. This increases efficiency, increases engagement with the employee, and makes them understand the situation from the standpoint of the goals of the organization.

The best way to do just that is to keep the employees in the loop. Inform them of the weaknesses in terms of their career path and job (it’s what the employees side will let you know), and their role in the organization’s bigger picture (that’s your side of the story). At the end, you will be able to come up with the performance review that will allow the employee to know how to improve and excel in their career, and at the same time turn these efforts into benefits for the organization.

Focus On Strength and Continuous Improvement for Weakness

Many managers focus on improving upon the weaknesses of their employees. On the contrary, the focus should be on identifying their strengths.

This will aid you in realizing what they might be better at. As a result, you can add to their job description, cut down work on areas where they are weak, and supplement these strengths by working on the weaknesses which if improved would complement their strengths and hence make them a more valuable asset for the company.

Reviewing Words

The next time you start preparing for a review, decide beforehand what you want to achieve from the whole ordeal, work in collaboration with your employees, make sure you clarify that the compensation process is separate from their performance review, and then spend the time making your employee more valuable for the company.

Be Specific and Avoid Generalization

If an employee lacks in service customer skills, for instance, instead of saying it like that, managers need to provide specific examples and mention particular statements to support this feedback.

Precision from your end will allow employees to understand better what the problem is and how they can address it effectively.

So, avoid generalized statements and pin-point exact problem areas in order to generate good results from the performance appraisal process.

Ensure Transparency

One of the key requirements of a good performance appraisal is that it should ensure honesty and transparency.

From informing the employees about the review process in advance to involving them in the preparation to working with each member to enable a clear discussion, each step should be completely transparent.

Identify Employee Needs, Challenges and Desires

As a manager, you surely want your employees to know your feedback about their overall performance and progress, but at the same time, you must also make sure to identify and address individual employee needs, challenges and desires.

A superior performance review doesn’t just highlight problem areas but also offers effective solutions and answers to solve all those problems.

Draft Effective KPIs

KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) are performance indicators that are used for measuring an employee’s performance based on how well a company is doing and achieving its set objectives.

KPIs help represent and identify the most important factors that are a part of an employee’s job that can further be combined with numerous productivity metrics to reach particular goals and objectives.

So, managers need to create effective KPIs so that the goals are well aligned with the overall objectives of the company.

Create SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Bound. All goals mentioned in the performance review need to follow the SMART criteria because it helps set goals that have the following characteristics:

  • They clearly state what needs to be accomplished.
  • They are quantifiable and state the exact criteria of success.
  • They are realistically achievable.
  • They are based on an employee’s knowledge about their job and are linked to the overall goals and objectives of the organization.
  • Each goal has a clearly defined time frame and is easily attainable within the given time period.

Key Takeaway

Performance reviews are indeed one of the key aspects of the performance management process of all companies and organizations. In order to write a superior performance appraisal, managers first need to understand the importance of performance reviews and how they work.

Their ultimate focus should be on writing solid reviews that not help them learn about an employee’s performance and progress at work but in turn, also helps the employees figure out where they can work better and harder to achieve the set goals.

Lastly, managers should go the extra mile to gather employee data so that the performance can be as honest, precise, clear and easy to understand as possible. For instance, they can generate data from sources such as engagement survey responses, talent review ratings, hiring documents, and previous performance conversations.

Looking for more help? Use our sample performance appraisal phrases to help you prepare your next performance evaluation.