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6 Easy Guidelines for Crafting a Performance Appraisal Letter

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It is no easy task to write an evaluation letter, regardless of whether the employee has done well or poorly in the past. But it is important to do it in a good way in order to be able to provide informative and fact-based conclusions about the employee's value and help the company make better decisions. The employee interview is there to address old issues, praise the employee for what he or she has done in the past and prepare the employee for the future in terms of goals, company needs and so on. Therefore, it is important to write a proper letter that contains all these details, but also comes with constructive criticism instead of just criticism or praise. To get a better understanding of what you need to do, go through these examples and see what can be done.

If you're not sure how to write an evaluation letter, there are a few things you should know:

Start with the positive

The best way to start the employee interview is to give the employee genuine praise for what he or she has done during the past year. With a few exceptions, all employees have some positive aspects and comments, something nice to say about them. Even if the person performs poorly, he or she should have something worth mentioning on the positive side. Details can help you let your employees know that, even if you're not around much, you still notice what they contribute. General wording can give the impression that their efforts were not noticed. Simply saying that someone did a good job last time doesn't make employees feel valued or seen for what they do for the company, and it doesn't help them in the future either. You must be specific. Of course, you don't have to list every single thing they've done well, but you just have to mention the most important segments and thus help them understand that you see them and value them as employees. People will appreciate that, and it will make the further paragraphs impactful, but less intimidating to them.

See what goals they have achieved

The second part of the evaluation should focus on how the employee has succeeded in achieving the set goals. There should be an evaluation of each goal and each measurement in short sentences, not too long or overbearing. It is important that you write down the most important achievements and share the rest when you have the opportunity to speak to the employee in person. Make sure to focus on the goals that have had the most significance for the company. For example, talk about what the goal was, and then write down what the employee did to reach or exceed that goal. State what was measured, which factors were included in the measure, and determine whether the employee was good or not. The point is to inspire the employee through previous achievements and give praise for something you may have overlooked in the past.

See which goals were not met

Once you've written down the successes, move on to the negatives and the goals that weren't met. Make sure you are fair and appropriate when writing this section. If something that was not achieved was acceptable due to the circumstances, be gentle and don't focus too much on it. It could be, for example, that someone was on sick leave for a long time and was unable to complete a goal, or that a team was unable to complete the goal.

Many managers make this mistake, and it alienates the teams that were doing their best. And unless you want to specifically list someone's lack of performance, you should save most of this for face-to-face conversations.

Make sure you still say that the employee has missed something, as this will keep them alert in the future and motivate them. However, the goal that was not achieved must be achievable and possible. If you are going to mention it in this part of the letter, it must be a goal that was not met due to a mistake or something related to the employee that the employee could have affected. Be fair, and if there were multiple people responsible, you should also mention that. Don't put all the blame on one person.

Identify what constitutes constructive feedback

At the end of the employee interview, you should spend some time writing down your constructive criticism. You should use examples of how the employee can change, what he or she can fix and improve. Constructive feedback should be specific, not just general. It should show the employee how he or she can improve in the future.

Remember that opportunities for improvement are not just about how to correct mistakes, but rather about how to maximize productivity and future performance. Maybe how they can do more of what they do well. Make sure that everything is performance-specific and that it is not linked to circumstances that have limited the employee.

When you give constructive feedback, it becomes a guideline for the future. The employee now knows what he or she must do, and will do what you have suggested in the letter. Simply criticizing does not help anyone, as it does not tell the employee anything about what you want or need them to do, but only what they have done wrong. But this is a wrong approach, because simply criticizing a person makes them defensive, and he or she will not learn from their experiences. They will only resent you and continue to do the same as before. Make some helpful suggestions, and change the wording to show that you appreciate the effort, but that some things could have been done differently.

Of course, it doesn't just help to praise, so you also have to offer constructive criticism. But this time you just want to encourage them to do more of what they did well.

Describe what is expected of them in the future.

This is the framework for the expectations you can have of your employees in the future. This section is meant to be short and most of it should be said in person. It is not intended as a formal development plan for the coming year, but more as a way to show employees what they can do. It is a starting point for a conversation with the employees about their development and your expectations. Finally, your comments should have an upbeat tone and end on a positive note. You may want to list several points here in brief, so that they know what to expect before they talk to you, and so that they can prepare for it. Offer them something useful and achievable. Do not set too high expectations if the employee has performed poorly in the past. The right way to measure this is to always set expectations that are achievable but slightly out of the employee's reach. The employees therefore have to make an effort and work hard to reach the goal, but it is not something that seems too far away and unattainable for them. Always adapt this area so that it is as close to the employee as possible. Make sure you understand the employee before you do this, and feel free to use last year's letter as a starting point when creating a new one.

Crafting a performance appraisal letter requires a balanced approach of recognizing achievements, addressing shortcomings, and offering constructive feedback for future improvement. IceHrm provides expert guidance for effective employee assessments.

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