Business Category Business: career motivation and tips to move ahead

How to write a good performance appraisal

Writing performance appraisals is often a dreaded task by managers and supervisors, who tend to fear offending or alienating those under their supervision by criticising their work. However, performance appraisals are a necessary part of business life. By putting aside emotions about your employees and about the appraisal process, you can write good performance appraisals that will help your employees do their jobs better to earn higher pay and help your company run more effectively.

Put aside your personal opinions of the employee. You may dislike someone's demeanour or opinions, but unless those things have something to do with how he performs his job, they are irrelevant. Taking time to consciously do this will ensure you deliver a fair performance appraisal, not one that is personally biased.

Look at the employee's job description and compare that to her accomplishments to see if she has fulfilled all the responsibilities and tasks set out for the job. While it's often not possible, whenever possible, look for quantitative measures, which are more accurate than qualitative ones.

Ask the employee to provide you with a list of highlights of his work from the year. This could include major projects he was involved in, as well as tasks he performed particularly well. After all, no one knows what the employee has done better than him.

Start the appraisal by stating what the employee has done right. Look back on the entire year or six months, depending on the time period you are appraising, to find all the achievements that are worthy of praise. One recent failing can taint your view of an employee's overall performance, so it's important to look back to get a fair overall picture.

Explain, using neutral language that won't alienate your employee, where he fell short of expectations. Be as specific as possible, citing actual examples to help your employee see what you see.

Follow the criticism with ideas for improving performance. These should be concrete things that the employee can do to improve, not vague, hard-to-implement thoughts. Write why you want to see the employee improve as well. This is an opportunity to show the employee you are thinking about her best interests. Explain how improvement can lead to advancement and higher pay.

Set goals that you want the employee to have met by the next appraisal based on what you identified as needing improvement.

End by thanking the employee for his work and stating that the company appreciates him.