Whether you’re a manager or an employee, partaking in performance reviews can be a stressful situation.
It’s not necessarily a joy having someone pick out all of your weaknesses and potentially hit you with tough questions you may not know the answer to. But it doesn’t have to be all bad. It’s easy to forget that performance reviews can also lead to positives, like hearing constructive criticism, improving employee engagement, or getting positive feedback regarding a project that was completed successfully.
A performance review, otherwise referred to as a performance appraisal, employee evaluation, or employee review, can be done monthly, quarterly, at each half, or annually. The overall performance of an employee or supervisor can be evaluated based on numerous criteria, depending on the type that is being conducted.
As a part of performance management, one of the main purposes of a performance review is for an employee to receive feedback from their manager. It’s the responsibility of the manager to structure the meeting around topics that will show where the employee is performing well and where there is room for improvement or growth.
Let’s go over the necessary topics of discussion for an impressionable employee performance review.
Performance appraisals will review the current responsibilities of the employee. This includes their job description, current projects they’re working on, and general tasks for which they are responsible.
Noting the employee’s current responsibilities will help you better understand their role, which helps when their position is new to the business or if they have changed positions since their last performance review.
Strengths and weaknesses
Highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the employee. This can include soft skills, like communication, or ones that are more specific to their role or technical in nature.
Successes should be mentioned, and skills should be noted. Similarly, a good manager will mention areas where skills could use some improvement along with strategies for improvement. They should ask the employee if they need any additional support from them in order to succeed.
Setting goals for the future is just as important in a performance review as discussing the attainment of ones from the past.
Wrap up the employee performance review with a positive look to the future with upcoming goals. It might be helpful to make these goals specific to overcoming a certain failure or shortcoming from the previous performance period.
Push all of your direct reports to aim high. This will not only show that you have faith in their abilities, but it will motivate them to meet or exceed your expectations. Make sure to note these goals within the appraisal form.
Comments from each side
At the end of the performance review, it is a good move to open up the already open conversation to any comments, questions, or concerns your employee might have. It’s possible that you didn’t cover something they wanted to discuss.
This also allows time for your employee to evaluate you. Ask them how they feel about the performance review process: what they liked, what they didn’t, and what they wished was different. It would be a shame if your employees were dissatisfied with the performance review process and you didn’t think to ask. It’s one thing to distribute feedback and another to take it.
5 performance review templates
Performance reviews can be a lengthy process, especially if you’re a supervisor who oversees a large team of direct reports. To simplify the process for everyone involved, as well as get organized beforehand, consider using one of these five performance review templates to be sure you’re prepared ahead of time.
In this employee evaluation form, you’ll want to start by completing the basic information about the employee, like their name, title, which department they’re in, and a complete rundown of their responsibilities, job description, and current projects.
You’ll then assess their performance based on the goals they achieved, their specific areas of expertise, where they should try and improve, and any future goals you’ve set during the performance appraisal. Lastly, complete the form with any comments received from the employee, as well as comments you have as their manager. Both you and the employee should sign at the bottom, too.
When you’re in a performance review with an employee, some questions you can ask include:
What was your greatest accomplishment this quarter/half?
What would you like to accomplish in the next quarter/half?
Where do you feel there is room for you to improve?
Do you feel our team is working efficiently together?
Do you have everything you need to excel at your job?
As your manager, where have I helped and where have I hindered you?
Once you fill out the employee’s information, you can dive deeper and rate each statement on a scale of “Strongly disagree” to “Strongly agree”. There’s also room for comments if there’s something extra to make note of regarding the job performance of the individual.
At the bottom, be sure to list any points of improvement, areas of excellence, and final comments. Both you and the employee should sign at the bottom.0
Self-evaluation review template
Because not all performance reviews are going to be on someone else, be sure to take the time to review your own performance, too. Just because you’re a manager or supervisor doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
To complete this employee self-evaluation form, remember to be honest and really think about how the past quarter or half has gone. At the top, fill out your name, position, department, review period (quarter, mid-year, or annual) and the date. Then, list of your current responsibilities, goals, and core values, and detail your performance in relation to each.
Include any additional comments or what you’d like to note at the bottom.
Since this is a self-assessment, consider thinking about these questions as you fill out the template:
What goal am I most proud of hitting this quarter/half?
What was a tough situation that I believe I handled well?
In which projects of areas do I find my skills to be more valuable?
In what areas did I fall short this quarter/half?
Are there any resources that can assist me as part of my role?
Where do I see myself within the company in the next five years?
How have I grown professionally over the last quarter/half?
What actions or behaviors can I improve on?
360-degree performance review template
A 360-degree performance review refers to feedback that is given to an employee from their manager, other employees within the same department, or teammates in other departments. They can be extremely useful because it provides a bigger picture of an employee’s performance.
In this 360-degree performance review form, the employee’s name who’s being evaluated should go at the top, followed by how that person is related to that employee filling out the form (manager/supervisor, fellow team members, an employee in a different department, etc.). The name of the reviewer is optional.
The reviewer will then note how much time is spent with the employee, their quality of work, and how they communicate with others.
Questions that can be asked for 360-degree feedback include:
Is this employee effective at problem solving?
Do I feel comfortable approaching this employee with an issue, concern, or ask?
Does this employee respond to others using passive-aggressive language?
Is this employee able to solve conflicts using appropriate behavior?
Does this employee use their time effectively?
How does this employee prioritize the needs of the customer?
Does this employee represent company values and keep goals in mind?
Performance improvement plan template
When an employee has significant areas where they need to show improvement, you’ll likely need to place them on a performance improvement plan (PIP). This type of performance review is used by employers to assist an underperforming employee. It’s a structured approach that is an important part of any talent management strategy and usually includes formal documentation and processes. Employees are expected to meet the goals of the performance improvement plan within a certain time frame otherwise they could face disciplinary actions, like termination.
Employee behavior that might constitute putting an employee on a PIP and using this template include:
Failure to meet goals to complete job responsibilities that are set by a supervisor
Repeated mistakes that the employee hasn’t taken the time to correct
Underperforming when compared to previous work done by the employee
Other performance or behavior related issues that could be improved with a PIP
Effective feedback, improved performance
There’s no denying that conducting a performance evaluation can be intimidating. Some people don’t like to receive criticism or have their manager conduct frequent check-ins, and others aren’t so great at taking compliments.
However, when approached with the right template and skills in mind, everyone in between can leave a performance review with positive takeaways, detailed feedback, and a plan for their professional development.
Looking to streamline the process even further? Your human resources team should look towards performance management software to keep all the necessary documents in one place.
Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's either at the gym, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, enjoying the great outdoors with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)
A smarter way to review performance
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