Career Development

Ultimate Guide to Writing Performance Reviews Effectively

October 18, 2021

If you're in a management or supervisory position, it may require you to write performance reviews. A performance review assesses how a team member is contributing to the company and initially takes place following a team member's probationary period and is followed up with monthly, quarterly, or annual performance appraisals. These are important as they offer a constructive evaluation process that may help your team remain motivated and develop valuable skills. In this article, we discuss the steps necessary for writing a performance review, explain how to write an effective review, and provide examples for inspiration.

Related: 13 Performance Review Questions To Ask Your Manager

How to succeed at writing performance reviews

Managers who effectively master the use of performance reviews can easily recognize high-performing employees, address issues with specific work habits, and offer encouragement and growth development while fostering positive engagement within the workplace. Performance appraisals also allow the employee an opportunity to express their own ideas and address workplace concerns.

Writing performance reviews is essential to assessing a team member's workplace performance. Using regular assessments by management throughout the year helps teams achieve optimal overall performance and increases engagement within the workplace. You can follow these steps when writing employee reviews:

1. Choose a quiet location

When preparing for an evaluation, it's helpful to find a quiet location within the workplace setting that's free from distractions. Perhaps use your office with calls placed on hold during the meeting to ensure fewer distractions, allowing you to devote your time to the specific employee evaluation. A live video chat is also an option to consider when evaluating remote team members.

2. Meet in person

Always meet with your team members in person within a comfortable atmosphere to discuss their performance review. Ensuring privacy and discretion helps ease any tension during performance assessments. With an increase being seen in online employment, live video chats are becoming an increasingly popular choice of performance evaluations.

If you hold your meeting remotely, send the team member a copy of your evaluation just before the call so that they can review the written work with you as you go over each point. If you hold the meeting in person, you can bring an additional copy for the employee. Sending it in advance of the meeting gives them an opportunity to consider some questions they may want to ask.

3. Be honest

Honesty in your team evaluation ensures that your team member knows the facts of where they stand on job performance. Start the meeting off by allowing them to get comfortable by pointing out the areas in which the particular staff member has excelled. Use specific examples, highlighting these achievements. Then gently follow these points by addressing areas in which the team member still needs some improvement in the workplace. Directly state what you expect from the employee moving forward regarding job performance. Be clear, concise, and honest, knowing that change cannot happen if not properly addressed.

4. Provide relevant examples

When discussing work ethics that require improvement, provide clear, concise examples regarding your feedback. Be specific when addressing these examples and how you would like certain areas of concern to change in the future. Providing specific examples shows your team member that you're paying attention to them and makes your expectations clear.

5. Provide constructive feedback

Even though performance appraisals take place once or twice a year, it's always good practice to be consistent with communication throughout the entire year. Address any staff issues through a direct face-to-face approach or through a general email for all staff members. By doing so, you avoid surprising anyone during their performance appraisal meeting.

6. Welcome employee input

Provide your team members with an opportunity to respond to their performance reviews. Employees may have counter opinions but choose to keep them private for fear of offending their supervisors. By providing an opportunity to respond, you are gaining perspective while encouraging staff engagement.

7. Choose your wording carefully

Pay particular attention to your tone of speech during your evaluations. Point out unsatisfactory work performance by using words of encouragement positively. Provide informative suggestions on areas of improvement. Morale-boosting explanations have a far greater impact on the employee's performance and the workplace culture, as team members want to feel valued and motivated to perform well. Always include highlights of achievements and skills along with your constructive criticism.

8. End the review on a positive note

Always end the review process on a positive note with mutual respect and understanding between both parties. Use this opportunity to address specific goals for the future and employee expectations. Provide them with advice for a clear plan of action for the future and thank them for all their effort. Expressing gratitude provides a boost to morale and confidence and decreases some of the negativity addressed in the review process.

Why conduct performance reviews?

Managers usually meet with their team members in person to discuss their strengths and weaknesses within the company, provide constructive feedback, and offer valuable recommendations to improve future job performance. This includes competencies, employee accomplishments, and specific job-related contributions made to the organization. A great review helps staff members identify opportunities for growth and development within the company and address areas that require improvement. This can improve employee-manager relationships and instill a good work ethic in every employee through open communication and the opportunity to discuss constructive feedback.

Many companies conduct annual performance reviews, but establishments are now moving toward a more frequent feedback system in which performance reviews are being conducted quarterly, monthly, or weekly, as opposed to yearly evaluations.

Related: 13 Performance Review Questions To Ask Your Manager

Useful skills to assess in performance appraisals

Consistent performance reviews are not just about what they can do for you, they are also used to help the employee excel in job performance. Continuous positive feedback and staff discussions through regular performance reviews can create a dynamic and opportune workplace for the entire team.

Regardless of which type of employee assessment template you choose to use for your staff evaluation, most reviews include the following attributes:

  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Collaboration
  • Teamwork
  • Attendance
  • Punctuality
  • Quality of work
  • Accomplishing goals
  • Ability to meet deadlines

Related: 8 Positive Feedback Examples for Employee Performance

Examples of written performance reviews

Many companies use their own templates for performance reviews, though they typically follow similar guidelines. Performance reviews allow managers to make comments or use a rating system to evaluate their individual team members' job performance and work ethic. These assessments also permit managers to highlight employee contributions and address areas of improvement. Take a look at the following example for writing performance reviews:

Evaluation for Annie McDonald
Manager: Jennifer Starling
Date: Sept. 30, 2021
Company: Shanloon Cuisine


  • You clearly understand your performance goals and you implement direct strategies for achieving objectives in the workplace.
  • You have a good comprehension of how to obtain your goals, and you access the resources you require to accomplish these objectives.


  • You discuss rational points during team meetings, and you excel at applying the feedback given to you during meetings toward improving the quality of your job performance.
  • You provide concise written instructions, and you always respond to emails in a timely manner.


  • You have proven your ability to master new skills and techniques quickly.
  • You adapt well to changes in employee assignments.

Work ethic

  • You show an exceptional work ethic and you often exceed expected productivity levels.
  • You overcame many workplace challenges this year, demonstrating your commitment and drive.


  • You have demonstrated strong leadership skills, always remaining on task and staying within the set budget.
  • You serve as an outstanding role model for your team members, often exhibiting your work ethic and capability as a valued coworker.


  • You have demonstrated a strong willingness to assist other team members when they require help navigating a challenge or resolving an issue.
  • You excel at delegating tasks to other members of the team, but you sometimes refuse to let other staff members assign projects.


  • You have shown a thorough understanding of job specifications, but you hesitate to try experimental methods of improving production. You offer a strong sense of creativity and I encourage you to demonstrate these skills further in your work efforts.


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