Employee Evaluation Forms: Template and FAQs

A manager writing employee evaluation forms.

A performance review should be more than a meeting to go over a form. Not only can well-designed employee evaluation forms help document performance, but they can also steer meaningful conversations about performance and provide opportunities for improving retention.

We all know that evaluations are a major source of stress. In fact, many employees say that an unfair performance assessment would be reason enough for them to quit their job. In fact, between 18 and 25 percent of HR professionals report that they have cried during annual performance reviews.

But, done right, employee evaluations can provide meaningful opportunities to recognize talent and potential. The key is to focus on positive past performance and achievable improvement for the future.

If you’re currently working with a cumbersome assessment process and pages of time-consuming paperwork, it’s time to filter it down to the most important 2-3, or at most 4-5, aspects of each position’s responsibilities. Any employee presented with a laundry list of areas where they are falling short is going to feel overwhelmed and discouraged. A well-organized form can help you focus on what matters.

What Is an Employee Evaluation Template and Why Do I Need One?

Employee evaluation forms should assess performance, document challenges, and provide strategies for improvement. Despite criticism from HR experts, at some companies, assessments also serve as opportunities to determine promotions and compensation, particularly when it comes to merit raises and bonuses.

Using a well-structured form with a standardized rating system for every employee helps to avoid bias and helps guide the discussion, which is the most important aspect of the evaluation in terms of retention.

What Steps Should I Take to Complete an Employee Evaluation?

As a manager, you should go into each evaluation with an open mind, allowing room for employees to tell you about obstacles that may have hindered them in achieving their performance goals. Evaluations should be conversations where you are prepared to do as much listening as talking, since they provide an excellent opportunity to gather information about processes that need realignment.

As you prepare your employee evaluation forms to present during the first phase of your periodic performance reviews, follow the steps below:

  • List responsibilities. Create a list of their job duties by looking at the most recent job description for their role. You may need to group their duties into a few major categories if there are too many.
  • Gather information on performance. Get feedback from people the employee works with and collect data on, for examples, sales, projects completed, deadlines met and missed, and contracts negotiated.
  • Document strengths and weaknesses. Check their progress on goals and benchmarks that they’ve met and those they still need to work on within each category of their responsibilities.
  • Provide direction for future success. Create an action plan for improvement for each area of weakness. This could include training or mentoring in a few key areas—2-3 is plenty—you can table any others for next time.
  • Draft goals for the future. Sketch out 2-3 potential goals for the employee to focus on before the next evaluation period, along with ways to achieve them, but be prepared to replace those goals or amend them in collaboration with any goals that the employee may have for themselves.

As you work with the employee to set goals for the future, consider using the SMART Goals method, which recommends making goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. After your initial discussion with your employee, allow them to respond in writing to their evaluation. The best employee evaluation forms provide areas for employee input.

Are There Any Legal Consideration for Employee Evaluations?

Employee evaluations are often used as evidence in wrongful termination lawsuits by employees and employers. That is why it is so important to have a single form that you use for all employees with a simple and fair rating system.

A poorly designed and written evaluation can be used to prove discrimination or bias. Failing to have a written record of poor performance can be equally detrimental should you need to terminate an employee who has failed to improve.

What Should I Include on Evaluation Forms?

Basic Information Include the name and title of the reviewer and the employee being reviewed, as well as the time period covered by the review and the date the review is shared. Do not include any private information about the employee, such as their address, age, or phone number.

Rating System Your employee evaluation forms should use a rating system that is clear (1-4, or a simple letter system, for example), along with what each rating stands for (1 = poor, 4 = excellent).

Feedback on Your Employee’s Basic Responsibilities

Enumerate a manageable number of job duties using a sentence to describe each one that begins with an active verb. For example, you might say that the employee “facilitates collaborative operations between departments,” “negotiates contracts with vendors,” or “delivers reports to team members.”

For each duty, include a rating and a comments section that describes how well the employee carries out each task, using numbers whenever possible (number of sales made, amount of money saved, etc.).

Then, provide action plans for improvement in each area of responsibility. Again, these should include active verbs, for example, “will work to improve timeliness of responses to queries from team members.”

Feedback on Goals Achieved and Missed

Include a section where you can report on how well the employee has accomplished goals from the current evaluation period. Remember, it’s best if these have been determined by the employee and supervisor in collaboration. As with the responsibilities section, each goal should be accompanied by a clear rating and explanation of why the employee earned the rating they did. Next, include strategies for helping the employee achieve any goals they failed to accomplish.

Goals for the Next Evaluation Period

These work best if they are a product of a collaborative process between the employee and their supervisor. As the evaluator you should have some suggested goals in mind, but for the best results, you will probably want to leave that part of the evaluation form blank until after your first meeting with your employee.

Sample Employee Evaluation Form

Employee NameEmployee TitleReview Date
Evaluator NameEvaluator Title
Section 1: ResponsibilitiesRating (Scale: 1 Needs Improvement; 2 Satisfactory; 3 Strength ;4 Mastery)Evaluator CommentsEmployee Comments
Responsibility 1
Responsibility 2
Responsibility 3
Section 2: Goals for Current Evaluation PeriodRatingEvaluator CommentsEmployee Comments
Goal 1
Goal 2
Goal 3
Section 3: Goals for Next Evaluation Period
Goal 1
Goal 2
Goal 3

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