What should you have on your performance review form?

With only slight exaggeration I can say that we've seen pretty much every performance review form under the sun here at Appraisd – from a simple 'quick check-in' to complex bonus-related forms with ratings and weightings. Every organisation rightly has its own requirements that correspond to the skills and behaviours it considers will lead it to success.

Despite this, there are some maxims that you should always stick to and that your people will thank you for:

  1. keep the forms short
  2. keep the forms relevant
  3. structure the questions in a way that promotes ownership and engagement from the appraisee 

Keeping the forms short

We've seen (particularly in the Middle East and Asia) a trend for very long appraisal questionnaires with tens and even hundreds of performance indicators. The resultant data may be interesting from an HR perspective (although I doubt it is as meaningful as they hope it will be) but the amount of time that the appraisee and manager need to spend on it quickly becomes overwhelming. Instead of making a final assessment of their objectives, they now have one and only one objective: avoiding the appraisal for as long as possible. 

Every Appraisd demo account has an example form that is adapted by many of our customers. From their experience, it has the right balance between the depth of information they get and the commitment required from the appraisee. Just sign up here for a free trial account and click "Your appraisal" to explore the questions in a greater detail.

Keeping the forms relevant

One of the biggest turn-offs for individuals at a review time is being asked to rate skills that simply aren't important to the job. While it may seem obvious that 'teamwork' is a strength valued by all companies, it may not actually be that important to all of them. In some of our work with professional services companies we've often had to strip out well-meaning but actually redundant competencies, since sometimes what really matters is simply the number of billable hours they've achieved.

Your junior software developer might get confused and disconnected when asked how confident he is about his client communication skills when in reality he actually never gets in touch with them. Be more specific. You can, for example, create several versions of your form where you update the competency section according to what's required at different positions. Just a little bit of extra work from your side translates into no confusion and raised eyebrows from your staff anymore. They will be pleased that the performance reviews are truly about them!

Promoting ownership and engagement from the appraisee

Putting the appraisee at the centre of the whole performance management process is essential. Employees must feel like the process has been designed to ensure the company continues to provide the challenges and development opportunities they need to grow and stay motivated.

So when you're creating or revising your form, think about the following elements:

  • start the performance review with self-assessment and direct the questions to the appraisee (e.g. How well do YOU think you have you performed since your last appraisal?)
  • don't make the review just about organisational goals, let people set their own personal development goals and training needs – skills and knowledge growth is what makes employees satisfied in their role
  • ask employees to suggest what objectives they would like to achieve in the upcoming period rather than letting the managers add the objectives for them – the employees will be more likely to take ownership of them and will feel empowered to achieve them

Hopefully it's a good starting point for you to go ahead and put together a new appraisal form. And don't forget to let us know what has worked for you, we look forward to hearing about your experience. 

For more thoughts on performance reviews in general, check Performance review – Back from dead.‚Äč

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