Writing a Performance Evaluation


Your employee’s performance evaluation is due soon and you don’t know where to begin.  

You sit staring at the blank computer screen in front of you. The pressure to “get the thing done” is weighing on you. Writing a performance evaluation document can be a challenging assignment, but it doesn’t have to be so painful.

Here are a few tips for crafting meaningful comments on a performance evaluation document:

  • Refer to pre-determined standards and goals. Begin by listing the outcomes you and the employee agreed to at the beginning of the year.  What goals were set?  What expectations were established? Once you’ve listed what was expected, follow each with a description of what the employee did to achieve them. For example, you might have agreed that the employee would reconcile monthly statements and follow up on any discrepancies. Your comments will indicate the level to which the employee delivered on that expectation.
  • Cite examples of performance. If you have kept specific and detailed notes about the employee’s performance, these can be the basis for comments on the performance evaluation. Save e-mails, letters of commendation, and actual work samples, as these items serve as sound support for your ratings.  “The employee does a great job with customer service,” is not specific.  Instead say, “On October 10, Allen received a letter of commendation from a customer who was impressed that Allen went out of his way to meet the customer’s needs.”
  • Be objective and specific rather than subjective and general. The more specific examples and factual evidence you can offer, the more likely the evaluation will be well received. It’s easy to argue with opinion, but it’s difficult to argue with facts. Eliminate judgment words like, “good” and “poor” and replace them with specific examples to support your perspective.
  • Write to the employee, not about the employee.   The ideal tone to use in a performance evaluation is the more personal tone of writing to the employee. It will sound like this: “Jordan, you expanded your contribution this year by taking on two new projects.” This is more meaningful than saying, “Mr. Jones expanded his contribution this year by taking on two new projects.”
  • Strive for balance in terms of positive and constructive comments. Solid performance-related comments should be both positive and constructive. Even the very best worker can benefit from a suggestion for improvement. And, even the worst employee has done something right (or they shouldn’t be an employee). Make sure that both ends of the spectrum are mentioned in your evaluation comments.
The next time you sit down to write a performance evaluation, think about your approach. If you focus on specific examples which you have kept a record of all year long, you’ll have plenty to write about. Good luck!

Explore a simple approach to writing performance evaluations in my webinar, Putting it in Writing: How to Painlessly Document A Performance Evaluation. The webinar is part of the Painless Performance Evaluations webinar series. See a demo video of the series and download an overview now.

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