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What to Write on Employee Performance Reviews

a photo of employees at the workplace, smiling and having a conversation

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Many workplaces have a tendency to view employee performance reviews as a meaningless formality. However, the reality is that performance reviews can be extremely helpful. In addition to helping your employees improve, writing reviews can also encourage you to analyze your workplace and find ways to advance your business. If you want to get all the benefits of employee performance reviews, follow these tips for creating thorough and helpful feedback.

Start with Specific Tasks and Evaluation Criteria

When asked about employee performance reviews, many employees complain that reviews seem biased or vague. A good way to remove concerns about this is by creating a basic set of criteria. Depending on your workplace, some things to include might be:

  • Number of products an employee sells
  • Whether the employee does things not in their job description
  • Employee’s attendance records
  • Customer reviews on the employee’s performance
  • Whether or not the employee has been involved in workplace conflicts
  • Employee’s willingness to work overtime or do the work others avoid
  • Amount of time it takes to complete tasks like making a drink
  • Performance in an area, on a scale from 1-5

For each employee, go over your standards, and see how well they meet them. Try to include precise examples or specific metrics. This lets you ensure all employees are being judged according to the same criteria, and you can give them more specific feedback than “good team player” or “nice food service skills.” Furthermore, this will make reviews easier for you to create. Having a set place to start with each review can make it far quicker to write them!

Provide Concrete Suggestions on How to Improve Performance

If you are not satisfied with the employee’s performance, do not leave them to solve the problem on their own. Keep in mind that some employees may not realize what you want unless you tell them.

For example, an employee who hears “you’ve been late to your cash register too often” might just make more effort at arriving on time for their shift. However, what you really want might be for them to show up five minutes before so that they have time to clock in and put on their uniform before the shift. This is why it’s always important to provide clear, straightforward recommendations for improvement. If you want your employee to do something, you need to ask them. Provide a direct goal set that you need them to meet, examples of what they should do, and explicit instructions for workplace behavior. Having this clear-cut guidance can help employees who struggle to notice unspoken company culture or expectations.

Conduct Employee Performance Reviews as a Conversation

Especially when your review has negative feedback, it might be tempting to just write an email, add it to the employee’s HR file, and let the employee read it. However, this means you end up missing out on a valuable chance to truly communicate with your employees. The best performance reviews are ones that are part of a bigger discussion. Ideally, the review should just be a formal overview of talking points that you will discuss in depth. In some companies, having a face-to-face review is as easy as calling an employee into your office. However, if you work at a busy cafe or open-floor coffee shop, it might be harder. In some cases, you might find that it helps to schedule reviews outside of normal work times or at an off-site location. This can make it easier to focus on your talk with the employee.

If you do need to schedule a review outside of normal hours, you should still pay the employee for his or her time. Reviews are an important part of employee engagement and are an excellent opportunity to mentor and coach the team member toward improvement.

Always End Employee Performance Reviews with a Positive Attitude

Even if an employee drives you up the wall (we’ve all been there), you shouldn’t use a performance review as an opportunity to unload all your frustrations. Hearing nothing but a relentless list of criticism tends to make employees feel discouraged and unappreciated. In many cases, this can just end up worsening performance problems since employees may feel less motivated to try. Instead, it is a good idea to end things with some sort of positive feedback. Often, coming up with positive feedback can be simple. No one is perfect, and even employees with room for improvement have something that makes them an asset to the team, such as being willing to work odd hours or having good interpersonal skills. If you are struggling to think of positive feedback to include, here are some ideas:

  • You are very motivated to learn more about our company.
  • We appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for the job.
  • Your attendance record is impressive.
  • Your technical know-how is essential to running our department.
  • We value your commitment to our store.

Ending on a positive note will contribute to a positive attitude, which is important for good customer service.

Focus on the Future, Not the Past

Of course, a performance review is a way to look at an employee’s workplace history, but its purpose isn’t to dwell on past mistakes. Whenever you write reviews, try to keep in mind that the goal of a performance review is to improve your company’s future performance. Therefore, as you plan your review, try to think of things the employee does you would like them to continue doing and things you would like them to do better. By phrasing the review around the future, it can encourage the employee to think about their behavior following the review. If the employee is doing a very good job, you might even want to discuss their future beyond their current position. You can use performance appraisals to talk about promoting a waiter to shift manager or turning a part-time barista job into a full-time one, for example.

When you’re getting ready to write reviews, TimeForge’s workforce management software can be a huge assistance. With our fully-integrated human resources, manager and staff log books, task management, and attendance tools, it’s easy to remember all the essential information about your employees. We can also provide team communication tools that help boost employee retention and engagement. Contact our friendly support team today to learn more about our award-winning software!

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