Emily Chardac
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Is it just me or do most people dread their annual performance reviewsMaybe this is my impression because I’m one of the human resources (HR) folks driving the performance process for the company. 

For us, it is a long three-month planning process followed by three months of gathering performance reviews from employees and their managers and waiting until the last minute for each of them to submit their reviews. In many cases, managers equally dislike this process as much as their employees filling out their reviews.

While it can seem like a no-win situation, there are ways to ease the performance review process: like crafting a performance review template that best suits your staff. Having the right template will ease the process and help you and your employees get the most out of performance reviews.

First off...

What is a performance review?

"Annual performance reviews are a key component of employee development," according to The University of Tennessee human resources department. "The performance review is intended to be a fair and balanced assessment of an employee’s performance." UT Policy HR0129, Performance Review, for example, specifies that each annual review is to provide all regular staff and supervisors an opportunity to do the following:

  • Discuss job performance
  • Mark goals for professional development
  • Confirm objectives for contributing to the department’s mission
  • Talk about expectations and accomplishments

A performance review should let an employee know what they've done well and what they could work on, as well as upcoming goals and projects and expected performance.

What are the components of a performance review?

There are usually three components to a performance review:

  1. A look at one's performance in the last year
  2. A look at one's objectives for the next year
  3. A rating

Some companies are doing away with the rating system because it’s difficult for each manager to consistently rate their employees. When the HR team is calibrating reviews across the company, the fact is human error and bias plays a role across all managers making ratings. “Meets expectations” may not be equally interpreted and used across the company. Some managers are more generous than others (and visa versa).

Where can you find annual review and performance review templates? 

If you are feeling ambitious and you want to use a performance review template that better suits your objectives and performance, this article is just for you. Or, if you’re the person responsible for the performance review process, this article will be really helpful to you as well. Here are sites with some examples of employee reviews that should help you.

1. Uptick

Uptick HR offers 50+ different templates that are easy to plug and play. What I like about this site is that they offer a choice between a Word or Excel format, which can easily be imported to the G-Suite. You can download the template you like and get started right away.

Performance review template via Uptick.

2. Citrix

Sometimes it’s not the words on the paper, it’s the conversation that goes with the document. Citrix, a Workspace as a Service (WaaS) company, offers some ideas on how to structure your performance review conversation with your direct report or manager.

3. PeopleGoal

If you’re looking to go beyond a sheet of paper and have a fully integrated feedback culture, consider using PeopleGoal. Their product integrates feedback, reviews and objectives into this tool.

Performance review resource via PeopleGoal.

4. Smartsheet

SmartSheet offers an interactive and simple performance review template that you can customize. If you want to add your own special touches to this template, you can purchase their cloud-based product so that you can share with the rest of your team. (Read: 360 reviews could work well using this tool.) 

5. Typeform

One of my favorite new finds is Typeform — a simple and easy to use tool that seems to do almost anything. They also offer an option to build an employee performance review. Even if you don’t choose to use Typeform for performance reviews, consider using them for your next employee engagement survey.

Performance review resource via Typeform.

The five template options are just the beginning. Performance reviews are part of a larger ecosystem of managing your talent and how each individual fits into that ecosystem. If you would like to contribute to improving the performance review process or even the talent management ecosystem, consider offering feedback to your HR Business Partner (if you’re in a larger company) or person overseeing this process.

What are the different types of performance reviews?

There are different types of performance reviews that different companies use for different purposes.

1. Numerical scale

The numerical scale is one of the most widely used systems as it tends to be highly effective. It measures employee performance on a wealth of areas such as collaboration efforts, communication skills and dependability. Companies can tailor the different measures to what's applicable to them.

2. Objective-based

This simplistic evaluation system can be used when an employer and an employee agree upon a specific goal for the employee to meet by a certain deadline. If the employee meets the stated objective, then they'll do well on the performance review, and vice versa.

3. 360-degree appraisal

In a 360-degree appraisal, an employer gathers feedback from multiple parties like managers, coworkers, customers and even vendors. With that information, they review the bigger picture with less risk of being biased.

4. Critical incidents

This system is defined as “a method of performance appraisal involving identifying and describing specific events (or incidents) where the employee did something really well or something requiring improvement,” according to Performance Appraisals.

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Emily Chardac is a people operations leader designing the future of work. Throughout her career, she has designed and implemented best in class “people products”  from Silicon Valley to Wall Street. Emily focuses on the employee experience from hire to retire and everything in between. 

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