Wednesday, January 1, 2014

How To Write Effective Performance Appraisals


Today's guest post is by:

Peggy Pedwano
Solutions Specialist at Halogen Software

As performance appraisal time draws near, managers are all too likely to be dreading the exercise.  According to a  report by the Wharton School, although 91% of companies worldwide have a performance review process, only 35 to 40% do it well, often because managers lack the training to write effective performance appraisals. 


Here are some ideas to help you write effective performance appraisals that can form the basis for a discussion that will actually add value to employee performance reviews.  
  • Begin with a clear understanding of what is important. If you and your employees have set performance goals or established other performance measurement criteria, this should be a relatively easy process. But even if you haven’t, taking the time to think through the year’s priorities and projects will help you focus your appraisal on what matters most. Consider projects where you have been able to observe or can collect objective performance data and identify the core competencies that are critical to success.
  • Keep notes throughout the year.  This simple tool makes writing effective performance appraisals much easier. Whenever you observe employees or have a performance discussion throughout the year, make notes of specific and objective examples to which you can refer. If you haven’t kept notes, think back to observations and prior performance discussions you may have had to identify specific examples. Identify enough examples to be able to document what the employee is doing well as well as what needs to improve.
  • Collect input from employees. Ask your employees to send you their own written thoughts about their performance. Be clear that you will be using their input as one of many sources in compiling an effective performance appraisal. If they do not already have them, supply employees with a list of the goals, competencies or other performance criteria that are the basis for their evaluation. But, by all means, resist the temptation to simply take employees’ self-evaluation, change a few words and adopt it as your own.
  • Collect input from other sources. It is likely that there are others who have worked closely with your employee throughout the course of the year. Ask for their assessment on the goals, competencies and other criteria you have identified as the basis for your appraisal. Weigh all these sources of input carefully to determine as accurate and complete a picture as possible. 
  • Watch out for subtle biases as you formulate your opinions of the employee’s performance. Factors such as personality compatibility can impact your attitude without your knowledge – guard against them. 
  • Consider employee career aspirations and include development plans. If the employee’s performance is generally good, include some elements that will help them progress toward the next step in their career. 
  • Be specific. Include descriptions of what went well and what could have been done better. Base your statements on the examples you have collected. 
  • Gauge the potential impact on the employee. Do not sugarcoat bad news, but be sure that you can support your opinions and choose language that will avoid triggering a defensive response.






Writing an effective performance appraisal is an essential part of a manager’s responsibility and has a significant impact on an employee’s performance, attitude and future. You owe it to them, the organization and your future relationship with the employee to take your time and create an objective, constructive and effective performance appraisal. 


Halogen Software offers an organically built cloud-based talent management suite that reinforces and drives higher employee performance across all talent programs – whether that’s recruiting, performance management, learning and development, succession planning or compensation.


Thanks Peggy for these great tips!

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