A well written annual performance appraisal can serve many purposes:
Valuable conversation starter
Set expectations and goals for the coming year
A chance to discuss growth plans and career tracks
An opportunity to address what isn’t working and why
A open forum for feedback both from and to the employee
Spend some time thinking about what message you want to deliver.
What were some of their major accomplishments during the last year?
How do they compare to others on your team or to others in the organization?
What would you like to see them improve on?
Where you can, give specific examples to support your ratings.
All ratings that are above or below a 3 on 1-5 rating scale should have comments.
State specifically what the positive impact of a project was or the negative
consequences of continuously missed deadlines.
Employees need examples that they can relate to before you know that
understanding has taken place.
Use your own verbiage
Many software programs today will allow you to pick your comments from a
drop down menu. Resist the urge to do this. It sends the wrong message to
your subordinates, that you didn’t take the time to think of something unique
to say about them. It doesn’t have to be eloquent. It does have to be honest
Keep it Professional
This is a document that will live in the employee’s file. It says as much about
you, the manager, as it does about the employee.
Do not use inappropriate language and do not use words like “lazy” or “doesn’t
care”. Those are judgements and do little to help the employee know what to
Do use words that are as descriptive as possible. Instead of “great”, think about
words that really describes the accomplishment
Use key metrics when possible to describe the impact of an accomplishment
Give Honest Ratings
Not everyone is a 5 on a 1-5 scale, nor is everyone a 5 in all performance
As a rule of thumb, about 10% of your team could be rated 5’s.
If you have performance issues, now is the right time to address these. Do not give
someone a 4 on a performance appraisal and expect to terminate them for
performance the next month.
Talk to other managers to calibrate your ratings. Are your average performers
being rated 4’s and everyone else is rating their average performers a 3?
When writing your assessment, be confidant in the thoughts you want to
express and the words you use to express them. You are the manager and
your team is looking to you for guidance.
Have examples to back up your ratings
Do not offer to re-evaluate someone or change their rating unless there is truly
meaningful new information, which should not happen if you are managing your
Do not apologize for a rating, but do speak openly about how they can improve
Offer Growth Opportunities
Everyone hopes to have growth opportunities
Let them know what areas you see that they could improve in, or that you could
offer to get them involved in, in order to broaden their skill set.
Opportunities can be vertical or horizontal. While there is only so much
opportunity for upward mobility, many employees are thrilled to have an
opportunity to grow horizontally.