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3 tips for writing an effective performance review

By Alan DeBack

September 19, 2017

Career Coaching, Wavelength Updates

3 tips for writing an effective performance review - performance-review
3 tips for writing an effective performance review - wave-lime-green-1260x540-1
3 tips for writing an effective performance review - wave-lime-green-1260x540-1

The end of the calendar year is when many organizations start their performance review process. Both employees and managers often find the process confusing, frustrating, and demotivating. Whether employees are writing their self-review or managers are writing their supervisory reviews, many people struggle with what to write and how to write it. If they’re not careful, managers can lose the opportunity to not only improve their team members’ performance but also improve their relationships and communication channels.

Here are three tips to help you in the performance review process:

Always provide specific examples.

Simply writing “I am a great employee” or “Tom did a great job” is not enough.  You need to give specific examples of behaviors and performance.  Suppose you have feedback about meeting deadlines.  A specific example might be something like:

“Susan submitted her project status report every week before the 5:00 p.m. Thursday deadline. The report was always thorough and accurate.”

To provide specific examples, you need to keep documentation throughout the performance year.

Write concisely using an active voice.

Writing in the active voice is more clear and more concise. Remember that your appraisal is not a writing contest measured by length, but an opportunity to provide a concise and accurate assessment. If you’re writing about complying with changes in a manufacturing process, stay away from something like:

“The completion of the quality improvement process was completed accurately on a daily basis by Tom.”

Instead, consider something like:

“Tom completed the daily quality improvement process accurately.”

The same message, but more concise, and easier to read and understand.

Consider the tone of your writing, especially when offering constructive feedback.  

If you truly want to motivate improvement in performance, the tone of your written performance review counts. Suppose you are addressing someone who is consistently late. Rather than:

“If you don’t start showing up on time, I promise you will pay a heavy price that you will regret!”

Use this approach:

“Let’s work together to address your challenges with arriving on time so that we can both succeed in our work.”

The more positive your tone, the more likely you will motivate the changes in behavior that you want to see in the future.

Performance reviews are opportunities to steer your team’s behavior in a direction that benefits your team and your business. Using smart communication strategies will help minimize negative and encourage positive behaviors, and help you improve your working relationships and communication channels.

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