Definitions and examples of performance reviews
A performance review is a written evaluation of an employee’s performance in the workplace. A manager, supervisor or team leader usually writes them. Their purpose is to create a concrete record of employees’ behavior and to motivate employees to perform well. Performance reviews can take many different forms that vary by company. Performance reviews can involve assigning grades, filling out a questionnaire or writing a long-from paragraph.
Regardless of the format, most performance reviews contain similar information. Thorough performance reviews evaluate employees based on:
- Quality of work
- Ability to meet deadlines or adhere to schedules
- Technical skills
- Organization levels
- Attitude and in-office behavior
- Ability to overcome challenges
A well-written performance review acknowledges strengths while also addressing weaknesses. It praises employees to have performed well and expresses genuine concern for those who need guidance or discipline. Most employers expect a performance review to be professional and free of bias. The best performance reviews provide the company executives with an accurate frame of reference they can use when choosing who to promote or who to let go.
Read more: Employee Evaluation Form
A sample for employee performance reviews
The content of performance reviews can vary greatly depending on the industry or the company’s culture. Here is a generic sample of an employee performance review that adheres to a basic format:
“Since Riley began working in the role of Technical Trainer, he has consistently met and occasionally exceeded manager expectations. He adapts his teaching style to suit individual employees and maintains a positive attitude even when under pressure. He has great attention to detail and he is never satisfied with a job half-done.
Unfortunately, Riley has been known to struggle in the area of time management. He often becomes extremely focused on a single employee’s training and neglects his over-arching deadlines. He is an excellent communicator and the trainees enjoy learning from him. However, his training sessions sometimes diverge into off-topic discussion during the allotted class time.
As an individual, Riley is considerate and respectful of others. He never speaks harshly or acts impatiently with his trainees. The atmosphere in the training room has improved since he joined our team. I am certain that with some constructive criticism and guidance, Riley has the potential to be extraordinarily successful. I would recommend a one-on-one meeting with a supervisor to discuss this review and to set goals for long-term improvement. With the right push, Riley could easily qualify for career advancement within the year.”
The least you should know about employee reviews
Fundamentally, performance reviews are only useful if they are accurate and relevant. Here are some tips on how to ensure your performance review process produces viable results:
Set a consistent grading standard
An important step in the performance review process is choosing the standard for the evaluation. Some companies choose to assess employees by grading their performance in certain areas on a scale of one to 10. Others take a more qualitative approach that involves writing a free-form paragraph summarizing the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Regardless of which standard you choose, it is essential that you apply the same criterion equally to every employee.
Performance reviews have the potential to cause friction if they become personal. Managers should strive to focus on behaviors and results rather than motivations or intentions. Using emotional or inflammatory language will only lead to tension and conflict. Instead, managers should limit their comments to objective facts and avoid personal feelings whenever possible. Objectivity ensures that the information contained in performance reviews is accurate and useful for evaluation.
One of the pitfalls of performance reviews is the potential for personal bias to interfere with the accuracy of the results. Bias can involve several factors, including experience level, age, personality and attitude. Managers are typically more likely to praise employees who they know well or have a personal relationship with. They also may be less forgiving of an employee whose personality or demeanor is very different from their own. Being aware of bias and specifically avoiding it will help performance reviews to be more accurate and empathetic.
Performance review frequently asked questions
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions concerning performance reviews:
How often should I schedule performance reviews?
Performance reviews vary in frequency depending on your industry and the size and culture of your company. If you encourage your managers to schedule regular face-to-face meetings with their team members, it may not be necessary for you to require official reviews more than once a year. However, if your company employs thousands of employees who rarely speak to their manager one-on-one, you may benefit from scheduling reviews once a quarter.
How should I respond if an employee gets a negative review?
If an employee receives a negative review, it is the leadership’s responsibility to address the issue and give the employee the opportunity to defend themselves. Many employers accomplish this by scheduling a meeting with both the manager and the employee. In this meeting, the manager can explain the reasoning behind their review and the employee can raise objections if they feel the review is unfair.
Ideally, the employee will acknowledge their shortcomings and agree to make goals for future improvement. If the employee can prove that the review is inaccurate, the employer should then investigate to determine if the manager was simply mistaken or if they acted based on bias.