How to Write Employee Evaluations

As manager, you need to keep giving your people constructive feedback to ensure that your company operates at its peak. Employee evaluations, whether semiannual or annual, provide you with the opportunity to correct your staff members for what they are doing wrong, praise them for what they have done well and discuss with them your vision for the future and growth of the company. According to experts, the ideal outcome of this is for you and your employees to have reflective and meaningful conversations together. Plus, it is an opportunity for you to document your accomplishments for the year, celebrate progress and understand expectations.

While regular informal feedback and face-to-face conversations are included in the evaluation process, a written review is very important in helping your employees with understanding where they stand. They can refer back to this document to know if they are staying on track from the latest to the next evaluation period. This is why you should make sure the evaluations you hand to your staff members are well-written, thorough and easy to understand. Here are some great tips on writing effective employee evaluations from insights provided by professionals, including executives, managers, and human resource administrators.

1. Understand Why You Are Evaluating Your Staff.

Though this might be the most important point in the employee evaluation process, a number of management resources would completely miss this. It might seem obvious that you are evaluating your employees’ performance so you can identify their areas of weakness and help them improve for the next evaluation. However, remember that a more important reason why you are doing it is for you to decide on an increase of your employees’ compensation.

Yes, you might have placed a good performance management process at your company, but the underlying reason why you are writing employee evaluations is to manage your company’s compensation, and not the performance, process. Now that you already have a clear understanding why you are writing a review, you can now work on changing the perception of your employee evaluation process.

2. Make It Comprehensive.

A good written employee performance evaluation should cover all the bases of an individual’s work, and should not just be all positive or all negative. Put in mind that it should be a healthy balance of both, which is necessary in helping members of your staff evolve with their roles. According to 5W Public Relations COO, Don McIver, feedback in a formal evaluation should be specific and relevant, with examples for both good and bad points. He added that you should acknowledge employee strengths and identify corrective actions needed in weak performance areas.

Aside from highlighting strengths and weaknesses, employee evaluations should establish performance goals for the upcoming year and should cover the roles of employees as part of a collaborative team. It is also important to provide workers with formal objectives of the review beforehand. Explain its purpose and its frequency, so you can manage their expectations and help them with preparing for the meeting.

3. Recapitulate Regular, Informal Feedback.

Formal evaluation periods should not be the only times when you give feedback to your employees about their performance. However, it is not necessary to call for a meeting for every issue that emerges, but it should also not be a surprise for workers to read reviews from you. As experts recommend, you should give employee feedback throughout the year, as good and bad performance issues arise. When writing employee evaluations, it should be a recap of things that were addressed the present year. Moreover, make sure that, when a problem with an employee’s actions or habits arises, address it as soon as possible to avoid bringing such a tension into his next evaluation. And if an employee’s positive or negative behavior does not warrant feedback for the time being, just make a note of it to be used as a reference point during evaluations.

4. Give Honest But Constructive Criticism.

It can be quite difficult to tell a staff member what he needs to do to improve, especially if it is done constructively. However, this is very important for a successful evaluation process. Well, you can do it by being direct and clear as much as possible when discussing mistakes and shortcomings, as well as taking the time to provide solutions to the problems. Explain fully the issues and then expand on ways to improve. If you see a problem with regards to a certain employee’s work, then he should have a solution to fix it. Also, let him know where such an improvement would take him, such as a reward or a promotion.

If there is any serious performance issue, the best way to deal with it is asking the employee open-ended questions. This would start an honest conversation that allows both of you to see your individual perspectives and realize the reasons for the actions. Remember that these questions can create positive discourse when opposing sides are seeing things differently.

5. Encourage Discussion About The Evaluation.

It can be very frustrating for you as manager when an employee has nothing to say in response to his performance evaluation. Of course, you would not want him to argue on every point, but silence is also a bad thing for the process. So, encourage him to respond on the issues you bring up. The written evaluation should be a brief and direct overview of the points to be discussed. And if the conversation starts to get heated, put it on hold to avoid saying something you might regret. You can then continue your discussion later after you and your employee have cooled down.

6. Wrap It Up With a Positive Note.

When you end a performance evaluation, always make sure it is on a positive note. You can do this with words of encouragement and letting your employees know you really appreciate what they are doing for the company. This will give an added boost to an already good evaluation and lift your people’s spirits. Take note that positive reinforcement and phraseology can go a long way in giving your workers the drive and confidence to perform their tasks even better. Furthermore, remember to always focus on excelling with the employee’s strengths and continuously improving his weaknesses.