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Writing an Employee Performance Review

Puja Lalwani Feb 9, 2019
It's that time of the year, and once again, you find yourself ill-equipped to write an employee performance review. Here are some tips that will help you in writing a review that is fair yet critical, and definitely appreciable.
A lot goes into writing a performance review that is fair, just, yet aptly critical. It requires years of expertise and the ability to judge the potential. Not every manager has that kind of experience. However, this does not mean that you are at liberty to write a mediocre review.
When you write it, it should communicate everything that your employee and the management needs to know, without you having to say much verbally. Here are some steps that will help you undertake this task effectively.

How to Write it?

An important point to keep in mind is not to wait until the last minute to write a performance review. That is plain unjust because you are likely to base it on recent events rather than year-long performance.
As such, keeping a monthly or quarterly record of employee performance is important and it will help you to write a just review. Having said this, there are many things that go into writing it effectively and some of them are discussed here.

Get Common Consensus

Employees don't just work for managers; they work for an organization as a whole, and with other colleagues and team members.
As such, only an individual's opinion is not going to make as much a difference as the opinion of several others who regularly work with the concerned employee. It is a good idea to find out how others perceive the employee in question, and where they think there is room for improvement.

Indicate Areas of Improvement

Everyone deserves the chance to improve before they are suddenly faced with the truth in a performance evaluation. Before you write down the review, inform your employees about the areas where you think there is room for improvement.
Give them time to show change, and if they do, ensure that you include it in the evaluation. Do the same even if they don't. By doing this, you are clearly communicating what is expected of the employees, and how if these expectations are not met, there will be consequences.

Be Honest

There have been cases when a manager has provided a 'satisfactory' review, and within a few months the employee has been fired from the job. This is because he failed to communicate the exact problem with the employee, and perhaps used vague phrases to point out a problem. If there is a problem, it has to be mentioned so that the employee can work on it. 
If you think the employee has a problem with punctuality and attendance, mention it by saying, Several instances of uninformed absenteeism have been noticed on part of the employee. By then discussing this problem, it can be dealt with, and something as grave as termination of services can be avoided.

Back up with Examples

Without appropriate instances of a situation, it is difficult to prove a point. Taking the example into consideration, Several instances of uninformed absenteeism have been noticed on part of the employee, there are a few questions that remain unanswered. When did such instances occur?
Provide examples and say In the last quarter of the year, Debra has remained absent for 6 days, of which on 5 days she failed to inform the authorities about the same. This caused severe inconvenience in that the company had to arrange for a last minute replacement who charged a premium rate, an expense that could have been easily avoided. 
As you can see, this is a very specific statement that clearly points out where the problem lies. Getting across a message in this manner is definitely more effective than just using vague lines. Also, citing appropriate examples will increase your credibility as a manager who pays keen attention to detail.

Use Descriptive Language

Using terms such as good or nice is not enough. You need to use adjectives that have a greater impact on the employee and the overall review.
For instance, you can say, Debra has displayed stupendous communication skills when 7 of 10 clients provided negative feedback about our newly launched product. Having listened to each client patiently, she also provided a sound justification for the issue, and promised to resolve those where there was scope.
At the same time, if it is a negative comment that you must include, you may do so like this, When 7 of 10 clients reported negative feedback about our newly launched product, we found Debra quite flustered and unable to answer the queries clients posed, effectively. Clear and crisp language is what is needed to be able to write it effectively.
Finally, whenever necessary, applaud an employee for remarkable performance, and stress on the need for improvement in specific areas. Every employee is likely to think that she/he is perfect and has done nothing wrong.
However, it is your job to present things in perspective, and tell the employee where exactly she/he stands. This you can do by writing an employee performance review that indicates the same. You may not be able to write a 'good' review because you must include negative comments too, but you may still write the one that makes all the necessary difference.