This post was originally published in 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and completeness.
When you first started your business, you probably had only a few trusted team members, and the feedback process was immediate, ongoing and informal. However, as your company grew (or grows) a formal review process became necessary—or depending on your viewpoint, a necessary evil.
Whether you chose to do formal reviews on anniversaries (likely making them a monthly chore), or at the end of each calendar or fiscal year (to get them all out of the way at once), there are things you can do to make them more valuable to both yourself and to your employees, as well as things you can do to ensure they don’t create more problems than they solve.
The following resources provide a 360 degree peek into the performance appraisal process—covering viewpoints from the employer, the employee, and the humorist. If after digesting those you still need help with creating your review process, links to sources for performance review templates are provided at the end.
An Inc. post, Performance Reviews: 8 Things Not to Say, provides insight into common mistakes employers make while conducting a review. From never talking about another employee, to making sure you never make a comment that can’t be backed up with an example, to never promising something you’re not positive you can deliver, this post provides tips that will help you become a better reviewer.
The History of Performance Reviews, an infographic from WorkSimple, takes a critical (and humorous) look at performance reviews starting in the 1700s during the industrial revolution, and traces them to the present day where many performance reviews now contain an online feedback component. Their prediction for the future: social media based performance reviews.
Another inc.com post, What Employees Really Think During Performance Reviews, attempts to explain why performance reviews may not have the effect you intend. Based on looking at counterfactual thinking as it relates to performance reviews (Counterfactual thinking occurs when we imagine how things might have been different.), the article posits that employees often come out of a performance review with a negative “what if” response which impairs happiness and performance. If the review process could be modified to create more positive “what if” responses, it would create happier, more productive employees, and thus be more effective.
Performance reviews have long been the fodder for jokes and ridicule. If the prospect of another round makes you want to cry, check out the following cartoons to turn those tears into laughter.
Download Sample Performance Review Forms and Framework for Small Business
If you still need some help creating a performance review framework, the following resources provide a place to start—just don’t forget to customize them for your business.
Free Examples of Employee Evaluations from business.lovetoknow.com. This post provides 5 sample forms for different types of evaluations.
Performance Review Templates for Microsoft Office, on the Office templates site. Choose from templates for Word 2003-2007 or Excel.
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