Four Steps to Writing Performance Appraisals

Click here for the April 2007 issue

It’s that time again.

Writing Performance Appraisals is an important part of a supervisor’s job, but one which many supervisors dread.

Here’s a step-by-step way of getting it done in an efficient and as-painless-as-possible manner that will benefit both you and your direct reports.

Have each of your staff members fill out a Self-Appraisal

  • Send your direct reports a link to the Self-Appraisal and ask them to complete it by a date early enough to give you time to use their input in writing your evaluations. Encourage them to give a comprehensive overview of their work that year, and to include data and examples.
  • This can be a win-win situation for both you and them. They can supply you with helpful information regarding their accomplishments, which can reduce the amount of effort you expend in reconstructing the past year. In addition, they can remind you of accomplishments that you may have forgotten, or inform you of results of which you may have been unaware. This can help to insure you give them as complete and accurate a review as possible.

Gather pertinent materials:

  • Completed Self-Appraisals
  • Information from you calendar
    Review the past year’s tasks to refresh your memory regarding projects on which your staff worked and accomplishments they achieved.
  • Other pertinent documents
    A great way of organizing this is to have a folder for each staff member that you use to collect pertinent data throughout the year. If someone sends you an email commending one of your staff members, toss it in their folder. If you have to issue the staff member a warning, toss a copy in their folder. If a staff member does something noteworthy, jot it down on a piece of paper and toss it into the folder.
    Too late to create a folder for this year? Create one anyway, and you’ll have a head start on next year.
  • Performance and Staff Development Plan
    Use either the Standard Form, Short Form or Alternate Formats


Be specific. Use data and examples. For instance, instead of stating, “You have good communication skills,” Sharon Aylor, Director of Staff and Labor Relations suggests the following as an example of substantiated feedback:
“Your oral and written communication is clear, accurate and thorough. The monthly reports you submitted were easy to understand and required little to no revisions.”


Sharon Aylor also gives the following tips regarding how to rate your staff:

  • Assess performance against expectations
  • Take into consideration the entire cycle
    [If you are happy/unhappy with something they did recently, don't let it skew the rating for the entire year; handle it in perspective with the entire year's performance.]
  • Consider extenuating circumstances
  • Relate the rating to the merit increase
    [If their rating is "Does not meet expectations," their merit increase should reflect that.]

Be consistent between what you write, say, and rate. In other words, the feedback that you have given them throughout the year should be echoed by the written performance review and reflected by the rating. There should be no surprises, no situations where, if they receive an unfavorable rating, they “didn’t see it coming.”

By systematically following these four steps you can decrease the stress and increase the success of giving Performance Appraisals an important part of maintaining a productive and healthy working environment.

For more information and tips for giving Performance Appraisals, click here.

Our thanks to Sharon Aylor, Director of Staff and Labor Relations for providing information for this article.

Also in the April 2007 issue:

Write You Own Performance Review
Meeting & Retreat Design and Facilitation
Workplace Q & A
Knowledge Link Help Desk

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