A performance evaluation is a formal check-in process used to evaluate team member progress. Though evaluations can be stressful, a performance evaluation template can help standardize the process. When your team member knows exactly what you’ll be discussing, they’re able to prepare and have a more productive conversation. Plus, if you pair evaluations with goal-setting, you can focus the conversation not just on current impact, but also future goals. In this article, learn how a performance evaluation template can simplify and improve the feedback process.
Performance evaluations can bring up memories of when you were a new team member in the hot seat. The anticipation before each 1:1 meeting was likely stressful if you didn't know what the format would look like or what you'd talk about. But now that you’re a manager, you can see things from a different perspective and create a more positive experience.
Performance evaluations are a valuable tool because they help provide structure and clarity to the feedback process. They’re also a great way to re-focus assessment experience on future goals, rather than past mistakes. In this piece, you’ll learn how to create a performance evaluation template, which you can pair with goal-setting software to support your team as they grow.
A performance evaluation is a formal check-in process used to evaluate team members based on their past work and to give feedback for future success. Sometimes called a performance review, performance evaluations usually occur in quarterly, bi-annual, or annual cycles.
During a performance evaluation, you’ll review each team member's overall performance and break down the competencies they aim to master. You and your employee will walk through specific examples of things your team member did well and areas where they have room for improvement. Some companies use virtual performance evaluation software, but you can also go through the process without using a dedicated HR management tool.
Performance evaluations are an opportunity for growth. They’re a chance to have a conversation about each team member’s impact and how they can move forward in their role.
Oftentimes, performance evaluation templates will have a self assessment component. This gives your team member a chance to drive their own career by sharing their successes and future goals. You can then start the performance evaluation conversation by asking them to share what they think they're doing well and the areas in which they think they need improvement. This can make the evaluation feel less scrutinizing and more like a dialogue.Free performance evaluation template
A performance evaluation template can help you prepare for the evaluation process by giving you a standardized format to follow. Though you should tailor this template to your team's goals, make sure your team members see the template in advance so they know what the conversation will be about. This allows them to prepare and encourages conversation on how to move forward. A collaborative approach will feel less daunting than a traditional, one-sided performance evaluation form.
Although you want your performance evaluation template to meet the needs of your team members, it’s also important to standardize your template to provide a fair assessment across the board. This means considering what competencies make the most sense for your entire department.
Core competencies that can measure performance for various team roles include:
Knowledge of job skills
Quality/quantity of work
Customer service skills
In addition to these categories, you can include an area in the evaluation form for specific goal-setting and further discussion. This will allow you to get more personal with each team member when you meet with them individually.
Tip: You can add sub-competencies below each category to make your performance evaluation more detailed. For example, under the “quality/quantity of work” competency, add things like: looks for ways to improve quality, performs a full range of duties, achieves goals, and meets deadlines.
Once you’ve chosen the competencies for your performance evaluation template, choose how you want to rate your team members. There are two main values of a rating scale:
Provides a shared language to discuss successes and strengths vs. areas of opportunity.
Provides something to look back to and see team member career growth.
However, avoid a numerical scale if possible. That way, team members focus less on their “grade” and more on their competencies. The key to your rating scale is to make sure it’s clear to everyone.
Rating scale example:
Often exceeds expectations
Consistently meets expectations
Make sure you align your team on what the rating scale means. For example, two people might mentally define "consistently meets expectations" differently, so keeping everyone on the same page can set the stage for a healthy and productive evaluation conversation.
Setting your evaluation cycle will let you and your team members know how much time you have to prepare between sessions. Common review cycles are quarterly, bi-annually, and annually, and your company may pre-determine these. But if you have a choice, you may choose based on the nature of your workplace. For example, if your work culture is hands-off, you can hold monthly performance evaluations to ensure team members get frequent feedback. If your work culture is highly collaborative, your team may not need frequent reviews.
Some review periods are better for short-term goals while others focus on long-term goals. For example, quarterly review periods provide enough time between evaluations for your team members to take past feedback into consideration and work on any goals you’ve set together. Once you’ve set your evaluation cycle, it’s important to stick to it so everyone knows what to expect moving forward.
Tip: You can also take advantage of the time you have between evaluation cycles to observe job performance in action and offer opportunities for professional development. Helping your team members meet their performance goals benefits the entire team.Read: 15 types of employee performance reviews (with templates and examples)
Now that you’ve nailed down the basics of your performance evaluation template, you can prepare for the individual meetings you’ll have with your team members. In these meetings, you’ll want to have a list of questions to ask that can move the conversation forward. Some questions you can ask include:
What is something from this quarter that you’re proud of?
Which goals did you meet? Which goals fell short?
What are two or three things you can focus on next quarter to help you grow professionally?
To ease the pressure of the evaluation meeting, standardize these questions for all team members.
Tip: Make sure you choose questions that get team members thinking about their work progress and goals. While the rating system on the performance evaluation is useful for long-term comparisons, the conversation is where your team members can verbalize issues and feel good about their accomplishments.Read: 4 ways to establish roles and responsibilities for team success
The best thing you can do to prepare team members for a performance evaluation meeting is to let them know up front that it's happening and exactly what they can expect. Sharing the questions you’ve prepared in advance can give everyone time to think about them and process them. This reduces nerves and makes it a more collaborative and constructive conversation.
You can also share the format of the review with them so they can get an idea of how the conversation will go. For example, will you expect them to share first or will you lead?
Tip: Aside from sharing the questions with your team members, you can let them know what to expect by asking them about their accomplishments during the interim between evaluations cycles.
Set aside dedicated time outside of your traditional meetings to have your performance evaluation meetings. Plan to meet individually with each team member for between 30 and 45 minutes. If possible, give your team members about a week’s notice so they can plan for them.
Tip: Don’t forget to ask team members for their opinions during the conversation. Aside from the standard questions about past performance and future goals, ask for feedback about your management style or the company culture. You can also ask where or if they hope to grow in the company long term.Read: Don’t like giving feedback? These 20 tips are for you
The questions you ask team members during evaluations should flow into goal-setting sessions. When you end the performance review process with a set goal, team members have a clear idea of what they need to work on between evaluations. Two goal-setting options include SMART goals and OKRs:
Key result 1
Key result 2
Key result 3
After you give team members a framework to follow, let them be the visionaries of their goals while you facilitate.
Tip: When you take a backseat in the goal-setting process, your team members will feel more in control of their future growth. It can also make evaluations more enjoyable because it becomes less bureaucratic.
You should always ask team members about your performance as a manager so you can continue to meet their needs. Sometimes, team members won’t feel comfortable providing honest feedback in a 1:1 meeting. So if you want genuine responses, consider asking for feedback anonymously. You can:
Send an anonymous survey
Set up a physical or virtual comment box
Hold a team feedback meeting
Emphasize that you’re open to any feedback your team members have for you, whether it’s positive or constructive. You can use their feedback to become a better manager and improve future performance evaluations.
Tip: If you’re having trouble thinking of ways to get team feedback, ask your co-workers what methods they use. Other managers may have strategies to share and ideas for evaluation templates as well. If you see areas that overlap between your departments, you can borrow ideas for your performance review form.Read: How to give and take constructive criticism
Below you’ll see a filled out example of what a performance evaluation template may look like. You can offer this template as a self-assessment for team members, which should spark meaningful discussion about their work progress and future goals.
You can download a blank version of this performance evaluation template below to customize for your company and department.Free performance evaluation template
Performance evaluation templates can be helpful for jotting down notes during face-to-face meetings, but with many teams moving to remote work, online software is more useful than ever. Virtuals 1:1 meeting agendas clarify that you're here for your team members and always willing to chat. They're a great place for casual feedback and to build psychological safety and trust. By developing this relationship with your direct report, you can set yourself up for success when you have a bigger performance review conversation.
Even if you work in person, you can use 1:1 meetings agendas to stay connected with team members throughout the year.
A 1:1 project also gives team members the chance to choose what they want to talk about with you. Think of the 1:1 as their time. You've set 30 minutes aside for them to use in whatever way is most beneficial for them. Sometimes, they might want to talk about their favorite TV show because they need some time to unwind. Other times, you may get into some serious brainstorming or problem solving together.
Performance evaluations are important for both managers and team members because when work gets hectic, communication can fall short. A “good job” here and there can go a long way, but team members need scheduled facetime for individual feedback in order to stay on track and grow.
Performance evaluations can provide the following benefits:
Informs hiring practices
Offers feedback on management style
Provides updates on team member wellbeing
For team members:
Improves communication with leadership
Provides a safe space to address concerns
Offers feedback on individual performance
While performance evaluations can feel nerve-wracking, they’re also motivating and give team members clarity on how to improve. Over time, thoughtful performance evals build trust and show your team members that support them and their career.
With Asana’s goal-setting software, your team can receive more frequent updates on how they’re doing, which lessens the pressure on everyone when performance evaluations roll around.
Goal-setting enhances the performance evaluation process by focusing more on future progress. When your team can watch their progress in action, they’ll feel more invested in doing their best work.Free performance evaluation template