The performance review, or employee appraisal, often strikes fear into those who must undergo them as well as in those who must undertake to perform them. But the process shouldn’t be frightening or intimidating at all. Performance reviews are an essential tool in career development for the employee and a crucial component for businesses to ensure the productivity of their staff. A Young Entrepreneur’s Guide To Growing A Business: Part 2 contains more information on how you can use performance to improve your organization and grow your business, but we’ll go over the basics here.
A good performance review should offer benefits to both the organization and employee. For the employee, the performance review should offer valuable feedback on the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Armed with this information, an employee can improve the skills they need in order to progress in their chosen career path.
For the organization, a performance review should open communication lines between managers, team members and the employee. Good communication is essential for productivity and the performance review is a great opportunity to get and give feedback on projects and tasks the employee excels at and also those projects that the employee needs help with.
It’s up to the company to decide what elements should be included in the employee’s performance reviews forms. And while there are elements that will be industry specific, there are a number of standard elements that should form part of every performance review.
The following elements should be included in any standard performance review:
A job description of the employee
A rating scale with clear indications of what the ratings mean
Performace reviews for each task
A section for strengths and accomplishments
A section for areas that could use improvement
Proposed plans for improvement
You can use the above elements to help you create your own performance review template for each type of employee within your company. To effectively set up your own performance review template, you need to understand the above elements and how you can use them to create your own template.
The Job Description
Every performance review starts based on the employee’s job description. It’s a good idea to include that job description in your performance review report. The job description is often included in the employees contract in general terms, but ensuring a comprehensive complete job description is included in the review, goes a long way to ensuring clarity of what is really expected from the employee and can make the task of conducting the performance review a lot easier for the manager or supervisor involved.
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Use a Meaningful Rating Scale
Decide on a meaningful rating scale for your performance review template and communicate that scale to the employee during the performance review. Different jobs require different types of scales to rate performance so this should be kept in mind when choosing a way to rate performance.
The following is an example of a general performance rating scale used in performance reviews:
Outstanding – this rating is used for consistently superior performance
Exceeds Expectations – use this rating to show performance that is generally above required performance
Meets Expectations – use this rating to show that performance is competent and dependable
Below Expectations as a rating can be used to indicate that the person fails to meet the job requirements.
Unsatisfactory can be used to indicate that performance often fails to meet the requirements of the job
It is a good idea to include the scale and definitions on your performance review template so that employees can refer back to the scale when reading their review.
Once you have a job description and rating scale, it’s time to determine which specific job factors should be included in the performance review.
Performance Reviews for Each Task
Whilst it is possible to create a general performance review template for the whole organization, it’s better to set up specific templates for each job type, since performance factors will vary depending on the level and type of employee you are reviewing. You can use the following general performance factors to help you set up your own custom performance review template:
Administration – Use this category to include how well the employee plans his or her duties, how well his station or job is maintained, how organized the employee is in performing their tasks or duties.
Work Knowledge – You can use this to give employees feedback on how well they know their job, how well they understand the requirements of their job and how well they communicate this knowledge and understanding.
Communication – Use this category to rate how well the employee communicates which includes listening, expression of ideas, written communication, the provision of information and feedback to other staff members and management.
Teamwork – This can be used to measure co-operation between the employee and their team or other staff members, participation in team activities or staff activities, the level of contribution to the team.
Problem Solving and Decision making – This performance factor or category can be used to give feedback to the employee regarding how well they understand problems that occur within their area of expertise as well as their ability to create solutions to solve those problems.
Expense Management /Resource management – You can use this performance category to give your employees feedback on the level of their management of the resources or expenses available to them.
Time management – you can use this category to give feedback on the employees ability to effectively manage their time.
Leadership – You can use this category to give your employees feedback with regards to their leadership skills and abilities and the effectiveness of the leadership they have been demonstrating in their job.
Personal appearance and presentation – Use this category to give employees feedback with regards to their personal appearance and they way they present themselves to both the organization as a whole as well as to other staff members and customers.
Dependability – This category can be used to rate the level of dependability of the employee.
The above categories are merely a representation of the kinds of categories that can be used to give valuable feedback to the employee. The categories included in your specific performance review template will depend on the type of job the employee performs as well as the level of the employee. The most important thing to remember about creating your performance categories is that the categories that you chose should be clearly defined in terms of the particular job you are reviewing. It is also important to ensure that the categories are explained to the employee so that the employee is able to benefit from the performance review experience.
A Section for Strengths and Accomplishments
A good performance review template should present a balanced view of the employee in terms of both strengths and weaknesses. The strengths and accomplishments section is often overlooked in a performance review but it is very important to include this section. This section provides valuable feedback to the employee with regards to the areas that they are performing well at which in turn can help to boost your employee’s confidence and morale.
This category does not only boost confidence, but an employee can always improve on current strengths and often it’s easier for the employee to improve on skills they are already excelling at than improving on skills they are experiencing trouble with. That is not to say that weaknesses should not be highlighted and improved upon. This section can also include behavioral aspects that the employee excels at.
This category is often represented by a section that can be filled in on the form or a field for a computerized form.
A Section on Performance Areas that Need Improvement
This is one of the most important sections in the performance review and sufficient space should be left in your performance review template to accommodate comprehensive feedback to your employees. This section should be used to illustrate not only where the employee could use improvement, but the specifics on how the employee is failing to meet particular levels or standards.
The more specific the details are specified in the performance review, the more beneficial the review is to the employee. Measurements or ways of measuring performance should be included, if at all possible.
As a manager or supervisor, you should also allocate sufficient time to cover this section in detail during the actual performance review.
Proposed Plans for Improvement
Your performance review template should include a section for proposals with regards to how the employee can improve areas that have found to be lacking. These plans should provide concrete ideas and “maps” of how the employee can improve their skills and abilities to meet the minimum job requirements and how to succeed in improving in the areas highlighted in the section above. This section can be prepared in advance before the performance review, but there should be sufficient space to add any ideas the employee has to improve their skills and abilities.
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Finally, a good performance review template should allow a section for employee feedback. The key to getting the most out of your performance reviews lies in creating an effective communication channel between the employee and the organization. Communication is a two-way street, so including a section where the employee can provide feedback is therefore essential.
What to Do When the Process is Complete
Performance reviews should not be filed away never to be consulted again, or filed away and pulled out once a year. Performance reviews are a very useful tool and should be created as an ongoing measure.
There are however some administrative aspects to keep in mind when setting up your performance review template. Make sure the paperwork includes vital employee details like employee name and number. The review should also have a space for signatures on the document. Signing the performance review can help to create a feeling of commitment to the review and the actions and proposals within the review. And finally, the employee should also be given a copy of the review for their benefit.
No matter how you set up your template, and no matter what fields you choose to add, it’s important to remember what you hope to achieve with the performance review in the first place. If you focus on creating categories that open the lines of communication to create a culture of improvement, then you will get the most out of your staff and your performance reviews.
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