Performance review template
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20 Performance Review Templates To Try Today
Performance reviews are essential for tracking performance, maintaining employee satisfaction and driving overall business success. So, why do so many organisations lack performance review templates that really get the job done?
In this article, we make the case for performance reviews while also offering 20 performance review templates that you can implement with ease today.You can also download our more in-depth performance review template for free today.
What is a performance review?
A performance review is a meeting typically held between a line manager and an employee. During this meeting, the manager will review the employee’s performance in a host of ways, typically resulting in a final evaluation, potential promotion or pay review.
What is the role of a performance review?
Performance reviews form the basis of employee development, mainly because they are so well understood and expected from employees. Building on that, though, the role of a performance review might also include:
Holding employees accountable
Maintaining employee motivation and satisfaction
Evaluating organisation-wide performance and productivity
Understanding corporate culture and collaboration
Organisations should see performance reviews as mutually beneficial. They should be helpful for employees learning, for managers managing and to the overall success and performance of the business. Simply put, everyone needs them to be successful.
Crafting an effective performance review template
The truth about performance reviews is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Your organisation is likely going to need something unique, which is why we use the term “performance review template” loosely here.
Instead, building on our own expertise helping 10,000 companies across Europe run their performance reviews, we want to introduce a more modular approach to the topic.
We built this guide to help with that. Using the templates below, your HR team and organisation should feel empowered to pick and choose the elements of performance reviews that suit your culture, your values and your unique ways of working.
Best practice: Using the list below, choose 4-5 performance review templates and blend them together to create a performance review process that truly suits your teams.
20 performance review templates you can try today
Below, we’ve detailed 20 performance review templates, but we suggest you view them as components or tactics. You can – and should – blend together the templates that make the most sense for your teams.
1. Numeric scale evaluation
How it works: Employees are rated on a numeric scale (e.g., 1-5) across various performance metrics like teamwork, communication and productivity.
The good and the bad: This system is easy to quantify, but it may lack nuance.
2. 360 degree feedback
How it works: Reviews are sourced not just from managers but also peers, subordinates and sometimes clients or customers.
The good and the bad: 360 feedback provides a well-rounded view of an employee’s performance, but can be time-consuming to prepare and analyse.
3. Self assessments
How it works: Employees evaluate their own performance based on predetermined questions. These are often used in conjunction with manager evaluations to identify gaps or alignment in perceptions.
The good and the bad: This method encourages reflection, but it can be a lot to ask an employee to write a detailed self-assessment on top of their usual work.
How it works: Focuses on the skills and abilities (competencies) needed for a role, such as leadership, technical prowess, or problem-solving. Helps identify areas for skill development.
The good and the bad: Is a great method for identifying career development and progression, but can sometimes result in a subjective process.
5. Management by objectives (MBO)
How it works: Employees and managers set specific, measurable goals together. The review evaluates the extent to which those objectives have been met.
The good and the bad: While it’s effective for goal-oriented roles, it can be a bit too rigid.
6. Narrative or essay format
How it works: The evaluator writes a detailed narrative discussing the employee’s strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.
The good and the bad: Allows for depth and context but can be subjective and hard to compare.
7. Forced rankings
How it works: Employees are ranked against each other based on performance.
The good and the bad: Can be useful in highly competitive environments but can also undermine teamwork.
8. Checklist review
How it works: A checklist of statements or questions rated 'yes' or 'no' or on a scale (e.g., "Frequently takes initiative: Yes/No").
The good and the bad: Quick and straightforward, but may lack depth.
9. Balanced scorecard
How it works: Measures performance across multiple categories that align with company values and objectives, such as financial results, customer satisfaction and internal processes.
The good and the bad: Comprehensive but complex to implement.
10. Skills matrix
How it works: Lists specific skills required for a role and evaluates the employee’s proficiency in each.
The good and the good: Particularly useful for technical roles where specific skill sets are crucial, a skills matrix can be too binary in approach.
11. Behaviourally anchored rating scales (BARS)
How it works: Uses behaviour "anchors" as reference points for rating an employee's performance in certain areas.
The good and the bad: Makes evaluations more consistent by tying them to observable behaviours, but it can be difficult to agree on organisation-wide behaviours.
12. SWOT analysis
How it works: A review focused on identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats in an employee's performance.
The good and the bad: A SWOT analysis may be useful for strategic planning but it may be lacking in granularity.
13. Stop, start, continue
How it works: Identifies behaviours or actions that the employee should stop doing, start doing and continue doing.
The good and the bad: Simple and action-oriented, but may lack nuance.
14. Quarterly objectives and key results (OKR)
How it works: Reviews focus on the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) set at the beginning of the quarter.
The good and the bad: Effective for agile, fast-paced environments, but can be considered too rigid if goals change midstream.
15. Career development planning
How it works: This review incorporates a career progression framework into the performance evaluation, helping to align individual aspirations with business goals.
The good and the bad: Great for employee retention but requires substantial managerial commitment.
16. Customer feedback review
How it works: Incorporates customer feedback into the employee's performance assessment.
The good and the bad: Highly effective for customer-facing roles but limited for others.
17. Project-based reviews
How it works: Evaluation focuses on the performance of employees within the context of specific projects.
The good and the bad: Useful for roles with project-centred responsibilities, but may fall flat for other roles.
18. Peer reviews
How it works: Employees are evaluated by their peers on predefined criteria.
The good and the bad: Useful for teamwork-oriented cultures but can be prone to bias.
19. Skill/goal alignment
How it works: Assesses how well an employee's skills align with the organisation's goals or project objectives.
The good and the bad: Effective for ensuring strategic alignment but lacks nuance when it comes to personal development.
20. Periodic Check-in (Weekly/Monthly)
How it works: Short, frequent reviews focus on recent performance and near-term objectives.
The good and the bad: Great for agile environments but may lack long-term perspective.
Building a great performance review template
An example of a great performance review template, using the criteria above, might look a little something like this:
Who is involved? Employee and line manager.
Frequency? Annual with a light touch bi-annually.
Numeric scale evaluation
360 degree feedback
Start, stop, continue
Career development planning
Based on the components above, an organisation may choose to numerically evaluate a candidate to create a general baseline for the entire organisation.
Then, they would build out that numeric evaluation off the back of peer and manager feedback alongside an employee self assessment.
A line manager would then review the results with an employee, consult them on what they should start, stop and continue.
Then, they would go into a short career development planning session to talk about the employee’s future and where they’d like to see themselves.
Putting your performance review template into practice
Creating an effective performance review process can be difficult without much trial and error, but templates are available to help you. Additionally, we’ve provided a few examples below to give you an idea of how to develop your performance appraisals.
Reviewing a promising employee
TO: [Their name]
FROM: [Your name]
RE: Performance review
DATE: [Insert date]
Here’s a quick recap of what we discussed on [Date] after your first six months working here.
You demonstrate exceptional [Put a specific example here] skills within your positions.
You collaborate effectively with colleagues.
You take the initiative in learning unfamiliar aspects of the job.
Areas of Improvement
Attention to Detail. While your work was high-quality overall, there were minor errors throughout the tasks that slipped your notice. Since we spoke of this, you’ve shown marked improvement in this area, but there’s still room for improvement. When you’re finished with a task, review it one last time with a critical eye before submitting it.
Client Needs. Some of your work required major revisions after being submitted to a client due to miscommunication. In the last six months, we’ve received several glowing reviews of your work, demonstrating that you’re taking the extra time to confirm what the client wants. Keep up the excellent work!
Seeking Support. In the last review, we discussed the importance of seeking help rather than attempting to solve unknown problems independently. While the self-starting attitude is commendable, it made one of your projects slightly over the deadline. Your manager has noted that you occasionally reach out to your team members, which is an excellent improvement, but she also noted some reluctance. Remember, many of your colleagues have worked here for years, and they’re a valuable resource while you’re acclimating to the position.
Reviewing an employee seeking a promotion
TO: [Their name]
FROM: [Your name]
RE: Performance review
DATE: [Insert date]
You’re great at starting the brainstorming process in the meeting room.
You’re a team player who shows a willingness to help colleagues learn and grow.
You demonstrate in-depth knowledge of company policies and core values.
Areas of Improvement
Adaptability. While you’re otherwise excellent in your position, we noted some difficulties getting used to the new technologies within the office. These tools can help you perform your responsibilities more efficiently. Your team noted that you’ve got used to the devices with some guidance, which is excellent, but I’d like to see you stay ahead of the technological curve as much as possible in the coming years.
Meeting Deadlines. In our last meeting, we noted that deadlines are challenging for you. The content of your work is excellent, but that quality comes at the expense of more time spent on your task. I’m happy to note that your metrics show you haven’t missed a deadline since we last spoke, and you’ve kept it up. You’ve exceeded expectations in this area, which is one step closer to receiving more responsibilities within the company.
Rapport With Colleagues. We’ve noted your interest and ability to show new employees how to perform aspects of their job. This has led to notable improvements in their productivity but a regular part of their feedback is that you have a tendency to micromanage. While your investment in the training of employees is appreciated, we need to make them feel welcome and let them find their own process. So the next time you offer advice to a new hire, try a gentler, more hands-off approach and see what results you get.
Running performance reviews with Personio
Personio’s all-in-one HR software solution allows busy teams to build automated performance management cycles at scale. This allows teams to build templates and processes that make sense for them and their work.
This includes evaluations, 360 and manager feedback and plenty of other opportunities to build programmes that make sense for your team. All HR has to do is build the cycle, add employees and click “run” to get things started.