What makes an effective employee evaluation form? The answer depends on your business and talent management needs. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow to ensure your forms are "user-friendly":
Make them simple to use
- Provide clear instructions and examples so managers and employees know exactly what information is required in each section.
- Make sure they follow a logical, sequential order - avoid forms that require a lot of jumping around and cross-referencing.
Keep them familiar
- Use your corporate language and terminology for all aspects of the process, and for competency names and descriptions.
Gather the information you need to achieve the goals of your appraisal process
- Different employee appraisal processes have different goals: competency validation, goal setting, performance feedback, compensation adjustment justification, identification of high-performance for succession planning, etc. Be clear about the purpose(s) of your appraisal process and ensure you are gathering the right information on your form.
- Don't try to do too much in a single process or employee evaluation form. Sometimes, it's better to run several processes using different forms to meet different information and performance management needs than to try to do everything all at once.
Create different forms for specific jobs or roles
- List the right core and leadership competencies for the job, not just a generic list of competencies for the company or department.
- Provide clear, relevant and appropriate descriptions of the expected level of competency demonstration for the role.
Choose the most effective rating method for competencies
- Most performance evaluation forms use a 5-point scale to rate performance of competencies. If you're simply trying to document the basic demonstration of a competency, a shorter rating scale may be more appropriate; if you need to provide more detail on the level of performance, use a longer one. Also consider whether you need to document the method of evaluation and the date, as required by some accreditation bodies.
- Some roles lend themselves better to numerical ratings of skills/competencies; others need descriptive ratings or even multi-rater feedback. Choose the feedback method that best supports performance.
- Not all competencies are of equal importance to your business or to a role. Think about assigning weights to the different competencies to communicate their relative value.
- Don't be afraid to mix your competency rating methods on the same form. Not all competencies are the same. Your goal is to give employees the feedback they need to improve performance.
Encourage SMART goals
- Prompt managers and employees to provide specific, relevant descriptions, links to any department or organizational goals, the measurement for success, any training or resources required for success, and the expected completion date. Allow enough space for all the details.
- Also be sure that the overall number of goals is reasonable. You may want to limit the number of goals an employee and/or manager can create.
- Providing an example of a SMART goal can be particularly helpful.
Address development needs, both professional and career
- Don't forget to allow space for identifying and establishing training goals.
- Ideally, training and career development activities should be tied to the performance of goals and to improving performance of specific competencies. Depending on the type of assessment, the training can be tied to the employee's current role, but should also help prepare him/her for career aspirations or progression within the organization.
Provide sufficient space for feedback
- Employees need detailed and specific feedback on performance of competencies and goals in order to develop and improve. Make sure you allow enough space for detailed comments.
Get rid of your paper performance evaluation forms
The most effective employee review forms are not paper-based. Even if you allow employees and managers to fill them out on-line using an MSWord or Excel template, there are inherent limitations in paper-based processes that you can never overcome. The most effective employee performance appraisal forms are created using a dynamic web-based application, so they're easy to navigate and always available.
Read how others are benefiting from online employee performance appraisal process and forms
Leading international workwear company Carhartt, needed to address some basic usability issues with their employee review forms, and experienced improved employee engagement, as well as major time/cost savings.
When Mackay LLP first implemented their automated performance management software, they recreated the dozen forms that already existed, because they wanted to keep things familiar for everyone. Now that everybody is comfortable using the system, they're working towards greater standardization across the entire firm.