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17 Performance Review Templates to Motivate Employees

Just like a radioactive bug bite or taking a 17-Performance-Review-Templates-to-Motivate-Employeesstumble into a vat of nuclear waste, the power of performance reviews can be used for good or for evil.


At their best, employee performance reviews motivate employees, increase engagement, and skyrocket organizations to new levels of achievement. At their worst, they intimidate workers, judge employee value, and cripple team effectiveness. 


Get your copy: 10 Steps to Ditching the   Archaic Annual Performance Review


The same good/evil paradigm applies to performance review templates. So while we want to share 17 performance review templates with you, we also want to make sure you’re using them for good.


Before you put any of these templates into action, make sure you’ve been trained on the best ways to use the templates in your tool belt.


4 Must-Haves for an Effective Employee Performance Review

1. Discussion
If you want your performance review to really stick with employees, it must be a two-way conversation, with both sides contributing. Tweet this!

2. Reflection

Reflection is the standard for most performance reviews. Take the time to look back on behaviors and accomplishments. twitter-icon_32x32

3. Coaching

Managers need to act as coaches, not judges. You’re on the same team, after all. twitter-icon_32x32

4. Clear Next Steps

After reflecting on the past, you and your employee need to look toward the futuretwitter-icon_32x32

As long as those behaviors are present, nearly any performance review template can work. We've identified 17 different performance review templates to match any management style. Take your pick and get to saving the world (or at least, employee performance). 


1. GOOD Performance Review

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  • Pros: Encourages conversation, reflection, and future planning
  • Cons: Doesn't include metrics by which to measure and/or compare employees (we don't encourage that anyway) 

2. One-Page Performance Review

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  • Pros: Quick and straightforward; has a defined rating scale
  • Cons: Leaves little room for additional information; doesn't encourage discussion of results with employee

3. Essay Performance Review

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  • Pros: Allows for additional context and detail
  • Cons: Takes longer than a scored evaluation; both manager and employee must complete sections 

4. Self-Assessment

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  • Pros: Instills reflective habits in employees
  • Cons: Additional peers and managers must be consulted as well 

5. Numeric Scale Review

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  • Pros: Uses numbers to reflect employee performance, allowing for quick completion and easy comparison
  • Cons: Doesn't allow for grey areas or relevant context 

6. Descriptive Scale Review

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  • Pros: Summarizes ongoing performance and development conversations; provides a record of past performance and expectations for work moving forward
  • Cons: Doesn't allow for quick comparison between employees 

7. Narrative Review

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  • Pros: Allows a manager and employee to tell a story together; grants freedom
  • Cons: Doesn't have much structure; doesn't allow for comparison 

8. Peer Review

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  • Pros: Solicits opinions of those working closest to the employee
  • Cons: Allows for employee biases/rivalries to affect evaluation 

9. 360 Performance Review

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  • Pros: Shines a light on the entirely of an employee's actions, not just what the manager witnesses
  • Cons: Could be difficult for some employees to judge accurately 

10. Statement-Agreement Review

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  • Pros: Similar to scaled, but employees are rated on complex concepts rather than general behaviors
  • Cons: Doesn't provide for much added context 

11. Performance Agreement Plan

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  • Pros: Allows aligned expectations to be compared pre- and post-performance cycle
  • Cons: Is fairly general 

12. Job Responsibilities Review

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  • Pros: Makes it easy for employees to understand what they're being evaluated on
  • Cons: Can be time-consuming 

13. Assessment of Potential

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  • Pros: Identifies HiPos; solicits comments from multiple sources (employee and several managers)
  • Cons: Can lead to favoritism 

14. Performance Review for Manual Work

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  • Pros: Includes room for employee and manager comments; provides action planning questions
  • Cons: Limited to manual labor employees 

15. Paired Performance Reviews

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  • Pros: Both employee and manager get a say; include scaled, essay, and progress questions
  • Cons: Are more time-consuming 

16. Mid-Year Performance Review

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  • Pros: Encourages manager-employee discussion
  • Cons: Only occurs once, leaving long gaps without review 

17. Group Evaluation

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  • Pros: Gives a sense of how an overall team, not just individuals, are performing
  • Cons: Extremely high or low scores by a few individuals can skew results


While improving the performance review is a great place to start, go a step further and consider eliminating the annual performance review all together. Get this ebook to learn 10 steps for ditching the annual review!

Step-by-Step Guide: 10 Steps to Ditching Archaic Annual Performance Reviews


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