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The annual appraisal is considered a dying practice – but it just needs to be revived in the right way, and more importantly, undertaken more frequently, to benefit the parties involved.

With positive feedback, little and often is the best way to keep employees motivated and inspired. These reviews should be a meeting that employees look forward to because they will either receive praise or constructive feedback that will help them in their careers.

An employer who nurtures the progression of their team and shows they care about them is more likely to retain their employees than those who seem apathetic.

What is a performance review?

A performance review is an assessment of an employee’s performance in the workplace over a certain period. It is typically used to provide feedback on the professional’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. It may also include a discussion of the employee’s career objectives and provide guidance on how best to achieve them.

Is there a difference between a performance review and appraisal?

Performance reviews and appraisals refer to the same type of one-to-one meetings about employee performance and progression. The only difference lies in how they are used: ‘performance review’ connotes an informal meeting between a manager and their employee which focuses on feedback, career progression, goals, salaries and more. Appraisals, on the other hand, often refer to more formal reviews, in which the two parties might, for example, discuss salary.

While other performance review templates will have a firm structure, our template can be used periodically, as needed for any type of one-to-one or group discussion regarding goals and areas for development and tailored to the employee. It is fully editable and customisable.

What should be included within a performance review?

Performance reviews can cover any area of concern employees wish to discuss that might help them improve their work, productivity, skills, or prospects. This might include their progression, goals, salary, benefits, upskilling opportunities, wellbeing and more. The content, context and frequency of the review should be a mutual decision, but the focus should be on the needs of the employee.

Usually, there should be some structure to the meeting in order for both parties to benefit. Our performance review template can be used to cover specific areas for the employee’s development and build a progression plan.

What questions should a manager ask as part of a performance review?

Performance review questions should prompt the employee to speak openly and honestly about their performance and any concerns they have.

Here are some performance review question examples:

  • What do you hope to achieve by the next review?

  • What do you feel you have done well / how do you feel you’ve developed since the last review?

  • What do you feel you could have done better and why?

  • Do you have any additional feedback or suggestions for me?

  • What are the different types of performance review?

Performance reviews come in various forms, from self-assessments and one-to-ones to wider evaluations by multiple colleagues. Here are the main examples:

  • Traditional performance reviews involve a manager assessing the performance of their employee, but feedback can go both ways. When an employee evaluates the performance of their manager, it is known as upwards feedback.

  • Self-assessment reviews are undertaken by the individual employee and give them a chance to reflect on their performance from a different perspective, perhaps more objectively.

  • Peer reviews enable colleagues to share their perspective of another’s contribution to the team.

  • 360-degree reviews involve more than one assessor, resulting in multiple points of view in one review.

Employee performance reviews can happen as frequently as they need to for the best outcomes: perhaps monthly, annually, or quarterly. Individuals may be suited to a mix of the above reviews, according to the level of support needed.

Each type of performance review mentioned above can be facilitated by our appraisal template.

The benefits of conducting performance reviews

Regardless of how frequently they’re performed or who is reviewing whom, regular performance reviews offer many benefits. If done well, there are no downsides.

The overall benefits are:

  • Ensuring employees understand their role and your expectations of them

  • Determining to what extent employees are meeting those expectations

  • Providing support and having an honest discussion

  • Acknowledging and rewarding good performance

  • Nurturing your employees’ career progression

  • Increasing engagement and longevity

Making time regularly to discuss anything and everything is crucial for transparency and building trust between a manager and their employee.

Examples of effective performance reviews

The most effective performance reviews are those where the person comes away with SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals to help them improve in some way before the next review.

In any employee review form there must be structure, but there should also be flexibility to adapt it to the needs of different employees.

The fundamentals of a performance review are:

  • Setting SMART goals

  • Honest and constructive feedback

  • A safe space for two-way communication and trust

  • Appropriate praise and recognition

Our template provides space to outline key areas of success, development, and focus, to give feedback on skills, and create an agreed action plan with objectives to meet before the next review – whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or annually.

Every team is different – that’s why our performance review template is adaptable to your own requirements.

Whether you’ve completed many performance reviews in the past, or have yet to conduct one, our template can help you provide the best experience for your employees.

Get started with our free template today – download it now.