Performance Evaluation Writing | 4 mins read

How to Write a Performance Evaluation

how to write a performance evaluation
Mary Kate Morrow

By Mary Kate Morrow


Performance evaluation writing is most effective when evaluators follow specific guidelines and best practice techniques.

The Purpose of an Employee Performance Review

An employee performance review is a tool used by management professionals to quantify an employee's contributions to the company. The main two performance appraisal types are an annual performance review or a review performed at the end of a new hire employee's initial probationary period.

Performance reviews commonly use a rating system to rank employee job performance and ability. During the performance review process, a manager will often provide negative or positive feedback supplemented by specific examples observed during the review period used.

Common aspects of employee performance that are considered during a performance evaluation include-

  • Overall job performance
  • Communication skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Customer service
  • Fit with company culture
  • Problem solving abilities
  • Time management
  • Project management

An employee performance review can be a contributing factor for human resources to consider when promoting, giving a raise, or dismissing an employee. A single performance evaluation does not always give a comprehensive picture of job performance especially if there are errors when writing performance reviews.

An employee evaluation is not an effective tool if an employee is not given a clear job description or does not understand their job responsibilities. Make sure your human resources department and management staff checks in with individual employees consistently throughout the year as well as during the review period.

The goal of an annual performance review is to encourage employees to perform their jobs to the best of their abilities. While there is a common misconception that conducting performance reviews or being evaluated must be stressful, there are many best practices that can be used to make writing performance evaluations and administering them as stress-free and effective as possible.

How to Write an Employee Performance Review

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Writing performance reviews requires a lot of effort and time, but it is well worth the end result. Best practice techniques that can be used when writing employee performance reviews include-

1. Job description review- A job description is a great place to start when writing performance evaluations. Ask your human resources department for a copy of the job description for the specific employee you are evaluating.

It is important to understand what expectations and responsibilities an employee was provided with when they were a new hire in order to properly evaluate their performance. It is not fair nor logical to evaluate an employee based on responsibilities or expectations they did not know existed.

Over time an employee's responsibilities may have changed drastically to fit with your company's needs. Make sure to consider this when evaluating how much weight the original job description will have on performance appraisal proceedings.

If employee responsibilities still line up well with the original job description provided, it can be helpful to take notes on where employees meet and exceed expectations. Begin to brainstorm constructive feedback points and note any specific examples observed during the review period.

2. Past performance reviews- When writing performance reviews it is immensely helpful to have any previous performance evaluations available to reference. Not only does this provide a template for writing employee evaluations, but it also shows specifically what changes an employee has made since their last evaluation. Remember that the performance review you are writing will likely be used for the next performance evaluation an employee has.

Performance management is dependent on long term performance review examples to reference. If an employee was provided constructive feedback in a previous review but still has the same issues, it is important to bring that to their attention. After conducting a performance review, provide employees with a copy and expectations for what they can improve before their next performance review.

3. Self evaluation- When writing performance reviews it is easy to forget to include the person who is most familiar with an employee's work- the employee themselves. For this reason, self evaluation is an indispensable part of the employee evaluation process.

When conducting performance reviews, an employee should be an active participant and feel that their opinions and feedback are being considered. Self evaluation is a great opportunity to increase collaboration and communication skills between the reviewer and the reviewee. Optimize employee engagement levels during the review period by allowing employees the ability for self evaluation whenever possible.

4. Strengths and weaknesses- Every employee possesses specific strengths and weaknesses that affect their job performance and capabilities. A helpful way to analyze strengths and weaknesses is through the SWOT framework.

SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Evaluating strengths helps to provide positive feedback to your employee. Strengths include positive skills like problem solving or interpersonal skills as well as employee accomplishments.

Weaknesses are a great place to provide constructive feedback especially if these weaknesses are preventing employees from effective job performance or reaching goals. Next, consider how you can present employees with opportunities for growth. These could include providing problem solving exercises or a customer service training module.

Employee engagement is increased when employees feel that they are given the opportunity to excel in the workforce. If an employee is bored or does not feel challenged their employee engagement levels and performance levels will necessarily be decreased over time.

Finally, outline any threats that could be negatively impacting employee performance. Both the opportunities and threat portion of the SWOT framework provide evaluators with a perspective on how outside factors could be influencing employee performance and the validity of the performance review process.