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How to Make Writing Employee Performance Reviews Easier: Time Saving Tips

Updated on September 5, 2012

Often one of the most dreaded times each year for managers is performance review time. You spend hours looking over forms and trying your best to remember what your employees have done over the year and what accomplishments (or failures) that they have made. Performance review time doesn’t have to be like this. This article will show you ways that you can make the performance evaluation process simpler and easier for you and more effective and useful for your employees.

Setting Goals and Getting Started

The performance evaluation process for most companies consists of the following three steps:

1. Setting Goals

2. Periodic Review of Goals – Make changes as necessary

3. Yearly Performance Evaluation

Setting goals for each employee is the very start of the whole process. Generally, you may not have much work here. Let the employee take the lead for this step, but provide guidance on how to set effective goals. Usually your HR department will provide instructions on how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. In other words, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Each employee should generally have at least three goals for the year. Review each employee’s goals and make sure that they meet the criteria of being S.M.A.R.T.

Time Savers:

Don’t just take each employee’s goals and file them away and forget about them. Here is where you can do now to save you tons of time at the end of the year when you have to evaluate how the employee performed against their goals. Make your own copy of each employee’s goals and keep either a separate file for each employee or start a binder with a section for each employee. This way you have the goals available to you throughout the year if you need to reference them. This will also be the place that you will accumulate other information about the employee throughout the year (but more about that later).

Tracking Progress and Making Changes throughout the Year

Some companies may encourage quarterly reviews of employee goals. This is an opportunity for you and the employee to discuss the goals, update them to make them applicable to the employee’s current duties. This is also an opportunity for you as the supervisor to think about what progress the employee has made in the last quarter towards their goals and assess both their achievements and challenges if any that they have had.

Time Savers:

Jot down any notes about each employee’s performance both good or not-so-good and stick them into the employee’s file now. That way they are fresh in your mind and you will have a record of all of these by the time performance reviews come around. Another way to do this would be to keep an excel spreadsheet and every time the employee really makes a difference in the workplace or if other issues arise, you can record them immediately. Keeping a good record will save you time, because you don’t have to spend the time thinking about the employee’s performance to make an evaluation.

Writing the Performance Review

Now here’s where all your preparation and record keeping pays off – just pull out each employee’s file (or spreadsheet) and use this as a wonderful resource to prepare the performance review. The file will list specific accomplishments or challenges that they have had throughout the year. You also have the copy of the employee’s goal right in front of you as a reference.

Time Savers:

Keep copies of prior year’s reviews in the file as well so that you can use similar text or language. This will keep you from having to spend time creating the review from scratch.

Hopefully these tips can help you save time and effort in your next set of employee performance evaluations. The review process will be more rewarding and meaningful for the employee and less of a headache for you! If you have any tips or comments on writing performance reviews, share them below!


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