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Employee Performance Evaluations

The idea of performance evaluation is a very old one but wasn’t always as fair, upstanding, and potentially motivating as its present-day incarnation. Nowadays, the performance evaluation process is a wonderful tool for helping employees see their potential, reach for it, and eventually meet those long-term goals that help them realize their managers’ highest expectations as well as their own.

So how can performance evaluation do this? Well, it starts with an employee performance review. This crucial meeting, which usually takes place once or twice a year at most companies, helps employees see what they’re doing right and where they’re still falling short. Decades ago, organizations realized that if the expectations they held for their employees and the expectations employees held for themselves were different, failure would be the likely result. By instituting performance evaluations, companies in a wide range of fields helped align their workers’ ideas and values to those of the people they worked for.

Employee performance evaluation accomplishes more than that, though. Because it is natural for humans to judge one another, job performance evaluation has been around in one form or another since the dawn of time. Standardized reviews help to ensure that workers are judged fairly on consistent metrics. This gives them a chance to do better, benefiting both them and the company and cuts out some of the useless criticism that accompanied workplace environments of old.

Evaluation is now a time-honored component in talent management, but not just in the HR department. Managers and team leads routinely offer evaluation to their workers, helping them meet performance evaluation goals assigned in previous meetings, addressing concerns, and building a better workplace. For a more in-depth look at the forms evaluation can take, read on.

Performance Evaluation Examples

If you are new to performance evaluations, or simply want to shake up your process in order to jumpstart some better results, then you might want to take a look at some performance evaluation examples from other companies. Knowing what to do better and what to avoid can help you build that performance evaluation template of your dreams. Once you have it, you know that every time you sit down with one of your employees, you can help them do better, fire them up, set reasonable goals and expectations, address problems in the most positive way possible and generally build a great culture that you, and they, look forward to being a part of.

So where to start? First check out some performance review examples from places outside of your company, either by asking partners or friends for performance evaluation samples. You can even find employee performance evaluation examples online, or download a performance evaluation form sample for your own use.

Scrutinizing an employee performance evaluation template or performance evaluation sample can help you see where your process falls short, where you excel, what you need to add and even give you specific ideas. Once you identify your own priorities, you can build your own sample employee performance evaluation so you can refer back to it later.

Look for positives that you want to emulate and negatives that you want to avoid. Positives can include great phraseology that you think would be useful, goal-seeking and solution-oriented criticisms that keep the employee feeling inspired and engaged, and improvement forms that make improvement seem, well, exciting rather than depressing. Of course, you’ll also identify some negatives. Overtly critical language, vague negative assessments, and critiquing without offering solutions are all mistakes you should avoid.

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Performance Evaluation Phrases

Time to get real for a second. Words can hurt, and not just the person you’re saying them to. The wrong performance review phrases and performance evaluation comments can also harm your relationships with your other employees, lower employee morale, create a negative culture, and even have legal repercussions. So … do yourself a favor and don’t hurt with your words.

Easier said than done, though, right? Especially if you’re a manager who has to deliver dozens of evaluations or more, it can be difficult to assess every word and make sure you don’t unwittingly slip up with your performance evaluation comments. That’s why having a stockpile of phrases at the ready can protect you from the natural stumbling that sometimes occurs despite your best intentions. Let’s take a look at some sample employee performance evaluation phrases that don’t accomplish their goals well, and consider how we can turn them into job performance evaluation phrases that do.

  • You’ve performed above and beyond this quarter. It almost seems easy for you! This phrase seems like a compliment, but is it really? If you look closer, you’ll actually see that it undercuts an employee’s hard work and can reduce their motivation to consistently try … after all, you just told them they don’t have to. Try, “Your effort has been impressive this quarter.”
  • You’re just lazy. First of all, come on: that’s not nice. Second of all, you most likely aren’t in a position to assess your employee’s deep character traits. But most importantly, this might not be the case. Perhaps your employee is having a tough time with a spouse or relative, doesn’t actually know what is expected of them, or can’t find someone they feel comfortable turning to for help. Try, “It seems like your engagement level has fallen. Can you tell me why that is?”

Performance Evaluation Forms

So, it’s review time, and you’re wondering how best to approach your employee evaluations. Handy assets that you may not have considered are performance evaluation forms, which can help you streamline your process and deliver your evaluation materials in a consistent, effective way.

An employee evaluation form can serve several purposes. For one thing, job performance evaluation forms can help you put together the materials for your review so that everything is in place before you invite your employee in to talk. This helps you stay organized, remember everything you need to say, and leaves more time for you and your employee to have productive conversation.

For another, you may need your employee to fill out forms during the meeting, such as signing goal sheets. Or you may wish to pass off forms to them after the meeting for them to fill out and return, such as an evaluation on you or the company, which can give you helpful feedback on how the organization can improve its internal culture and retain great employees. Lastly, you may wish to give your employee the opportunity to evaluate their own performance, in which case performance evaluation sample forms can provide a helpful model.


Offering your employees the chance to self-review gives you a valuable window into how they see themselves, what you agree or disagree on, and how best to reach them on a level they’ll understand. While reviewing your employee is your right as a manager, if you and they have vastly differing ideas of their performance, your review may be difficult indeed. Instead, give your employees the opportunity to convey where they think they shine and take responsibility for their own shortcomings. It empowers them and makes them more willing to hear what you have to say in turn. This makes for a more positive workplace overall.

Need some ideas? No problem. You can find plenty online. Use these as a template for your creation of the self review materials you’ll hand out before employee reviews. Make sure to give employees plenty of room for open-ended expression of their ideas and feelings, in addition to the more quantitative data offered by multiple choice-type questions.

Don’t forget to conduct a job performance self-evaluation of how you are managing the individual in question as well. It may seem like more work, but it can actually prove very helpful to assess how you think the relationship is going. If your employee then provides a lot of feedback that doesn’t match your idea of the relationship, you can figure out where the gaps are and work on closing them. After all, a good relationship is a two-way street.

Remember that you expect honesty from your employee and that you should give them the same respect. After you conduct your self-evaluation, be sure to ask them what you could do better, how you could help them reach their goals and if they have any suggestions for the future. Positivity is based on respect, engagement, and even enjoyment, and this is one of the best ways to get there.

How to Write An Employee Performance Evaluation

At this point, you might be wondering how to write an employee performance evaluation. While there’s no one right way, there is a correct attitude: a positive one. If you use a review as an opportunity to vent your anger or disdain, grind your axe, or generally focus on the negative, you will deprive your employee of the hope that you’ll reward them for good behavior, and they will withdraw their engagement, enthusiasm, positivity, and eventually, their employment.

Here are some tips for preparing in a forward-focused way:

  • Focus on the present instead of letting yourself get mired in past slip-ups, either yours or the employee’s.
  • Do not offer criticism to which you have no solution. If you are really stumped, you can be honest and tell the employee you’re wondering what they think might help fix a knotty issue, but don’t just lay it out there without a light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Sandwich negative criticism between compliments. It’s Old School, but it works.
  • Be approachable. Let your employee know that you’re just another human who is also capable of error.
  • Give positive feedback freely, without qualifiers.
  • When giving critiques, be very specific about what the issue is. Rather than telling an employee they’re too shy, say “During the last five meetings, you didn’t offer even one suggestion.”
  • Follow up negative critiques with a short period during which your employee can offer their take on things before you move on to fixing the issue. It will help you understand them, but more importantly it makes them feel heard.

Of course, whole books have been written on the subject of creating engaging workplaces, but the above suggestions will go a long way toward making your employee review process positive, actionable, useful and pleasant.

Performance Evaluation Quotes

Some managers find performance evaluation to be a difficult task. It can feel draining to put so much energy into finding the right ways to help others without hurting feelings or causing damage, but you know how important it is to use positive phrasing and have an inspirational attitude. If you are like many, perhaps inspiring people is something you have to gear up toward or work hard at, even if you believe it is critical to success. Or perhaps you love the whole experience and take every opportunity you can to get pumped up about evaluations so you can help employees do their best.

Whatever the case, we here at Lessonly think that positivity rules, and that employee evaluations done right can be a cornerstone of building a wonderful workplace. Because of that, we wanted to offer a few quotes about positive reviews, instilling responsibility, communication and building a great culture. We hope you love them as much as we do!

“If you are building a culture where honest expectations are communicated and peer accountability is the norm, then the group will address poor performance and attitudes.”
– Henry Cloud

“The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them.”
– Harold S. Geneen

“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations.”
– Ralph Marston

“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
– Jack Welch

“If you are lucky enough to be someone’s employer, then you have a moral obligation to make sure people do look forward to coming to work in the morning.”
– John Mackey

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