Employee Performance Evaluations


What It Is

During an employee performance review or evaluation, a manager assesses an employee’s job performance and then discusses the assessment with him/her. A good performance review also affords the employee a chance to ask questions, as well as to make suggestions or comments about the organization.

Organizations generally conduct employee performance reviews once a year, with intermittent progress checks along the way. Progress checks are important, as they allow managers and employees to vet any issues before they impair job performance.


Why It Matters

An employee performance review does the following:

  • Reinforces good job performance.
  • Helps improve unsatisfactory job performance.
  • Makes sure employees and managers understand each other’s expectations.
  • Allows employees and managers to create goals, as well as plans to achieve those goals.
  • Improves communication between managers and staff members.

Getting Started

  • Step One: Research good employee performance review techniques.
  • Step Two: Choose templates and worksheets.

Step One: Before jumping into a review session, make sure you know what a good review entails. Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp give the following tips for conducting a good employee performance review:

    • Be Prepared
    • Lead with the positive
    • Don’t be confrontational
    • Keep it real
    • Be consistent
    • Make it a two-way conversation
    • Discuss work/life balance
    • Be a good listener
    • Review regularly[1]

Step Two: Documenting the review process is also important, so make sure you have the appropriate paperwork before you meet with your employees.

For example, a good template can help you organize your thoughts about an employee’s performance, which will make it easier to conduct the review. You can find employee performance review templates here and here.

A goal worksheet can also help an employee review go more smoothly. Bringing a worksheet to the review will help you and your employee create goals together, which will ensure that his/her job performance improves over the next year. It will also keep you and the employee “on the same page,” both literally and figuratively.

Click here to download a worksheet that will help you make and organize SMART goals. SMART goals are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely


Going Further

  • Step One: Include environmental and social goals
  • Step Two: Try a 360-degree evaluation
  • Step Three: Remember the progress checks

Step One: Encouraging environmental and social goal setting can help you improve sustainability at the individual and organizational level. When you meet with an employee, incorporate your organization’s sustainability goals into his/her goal list. For example, an employee can easily add any of the following goals to his/her worksheet:

    • Turn off lights when not in use
    • Bike to work at least once a week
    • Organize a carpool group
    • Recycle whenever possible

Step Two: 360-degree evaluation includes input from superiors, peers, subordinates, customers, the employee him/herself. Allowing each of these groups or individuals to evaluate an employee’s performance will help you and the employee understand his/her performance from multiple perspectives. Note that it’s not always necessary to gain feedback from all of these audiences. Whether or not you collect this input depends on your organization’s mission, the employee’s job, and how you intend to use the feedback.[2]

Step Three: After annual employee performance reviews, don’t forget to meet with employees periodically throughout the year to make sure things are going smoothly. Progress checks let you see how employees are doing and give employees a chance to voice questions, comments, or concerns. Progress checks also let you update employees on their performance, meaning the annual employee performance reviews won’t surprise them.


Case Study

Army Management Engineering College (AMEC) was one of the first federal agencies to use a 360-degree review process.[3] Patrick Moylan, an AMEC human resource specialist, says that involving employees in the review process has increased everyone’s satisfaction with the program, managers included.  Click here for more information on the AMEC and its employee performance evaluation process.


Resources for More Information


199 Pre-written Employee Performance Appraisals by S. Lyster, A.E. Arthur, and A. Arthur

Harvard Business Review on Appraising Employee Performance by Harry Levinson, et al.

Improving Employee Performance Through Appraisal and Coaching by Donald Kirkpatrick


360-Degree Assessment: An Overview by the United States Office of Personnel Management

Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates, and Tactics from Squidoo.com

How to Conduct Annual Employee Reviews by Inc.com

Performance Appraisal from Strategic-Human-Resource.com


Employee performance evaluation templates for Microsoft Office

Performance Appraisal Templates from BusinessBalls.com



Employee performance reviews help managers and employees stay on the same page, making sure that everyone understands each other’s expectations and goals. This helps improve job performance and employee satisfaction. It can also help a company realize its goals on the individual and organizational, including those goals related to sustainability.

[1] Amanda Pendolino, “How To Conduct An Employee Performance Review” Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp, 10 April 2012, accessed 28 June 2013, http://businesssearch.dnb.com/small-business-tips/how-to-conduct-an-employee-performance-review/

[2] United States Office of Personnel Management,  360-Degree Evaluation: An Overview, (September 1997): 1. Accessed 28 June 2013, http://www.opm.gov/perform/wppdf/360asess.pdf.

[3] “360-Degree Appraisal: A Case Study,” US Office of Personnel Management, April 1994, accessed 28 June 2013, http://www.opm.gov/perform/articles/002.asp.

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