A female manager who knows how to write employee reviews, writing on a clipboard while evaluating a male employee.

Is it time for you to evaluate employees? What are the three parts of an employee review?

Claire Hughes Johnson points out that managers should implement formal reviews that occur on a consistent basis. Such reviews have three parts: gathering feedback from various sources, adjusting that feedback to account for irregularities, and determining any changes to compensation.

Discover how to write employee reviews that are thorough and helpful.

Part #1: Gather Feedback

To learn how to write employees, Hughes Johnson writes that you should collect feedback about your employees from three sources: the employees themselves, their co-workers, and yourself.

To begin, ask each reviewee to submit a brief self-assessment that summarizes their accomplishments, highlights their strengths, and discusses one potential area of improvement. Because your employees are often most aware of their own work, their reports could provide insights that you’ve missed.

Next, choose a handful of each reviewee’s co-workers who are especially familiar with the reviewee’s work to give feedback on their performance. Whereas the reviewee might be motivated by self-interest, their co-workers should be able to give more candid assessments.

Finally, after you’ve taken each reviewee’s self-assessment and peer assessments into consideration, write down your own feedback report, discussing the reviewee’s accomplishments, strengths, and weaknesses. In particular, Hughes Johnson suggests rating employees on a concrete five-point scale, from “does not meet expectations” to “greatly exceeds expectations,” which will inform your later decision on whether to promote.

The Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Employee Evaluations

In addition to gathering feedback from employees, their co-workers, and yourself, some companies are now utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to assess their employees. This practice involves utilizing AI technology to collect and analyze data about employees’ performance, such as working metrics designed to track efficiency and productivity. However, there are competing opinions about whether AI should feature in employee evaluations.

According to its supporters, AI offers myriad benefits when assessing employees. For example, AI allows for the continuous assessment of your employees with real-time feedback, rather than the biannual assessments that most managers opt for. Moreover, supporters contend that AI eliminates human error by providing objective, data-driven reports on your employees. Finally, they point out that AI assessments are more scalable than human assessments, meaning they’re much more efficient for larger companies with many employees.

However, AI’s detractors maintain that its drawbacks are damning. For instance, they note that allowing AI to constantly evaluate employees raises serious concerns about privacy, as it’s too intrusive to monitor employees all of the time. Moreover, they argue that AI often perpetuates human biases because it draws on data that was originally created by humans, meaning that AI-driven assessments could actually be more biased than their human-driven counterparts.

Part #2: Adjust Feedback

Hughes Johnson recognizes that biases and other suboptimal circumstances can influence performance reviews. For example, you might find that women consistently receive worse evaluations than men, or that one manager consistently rates employees lower than other managers. For this reason, you should use data analysis to track performance ratings from different managers and across different demographic groups. 

She points out that by analyzing performance ratings, you can identify any abnormalities in the review process and dig deeper into them. For instance, if you notice that one manager provides significantly higher ratings than other managers, you could carefully re-evaluate the employees to see whether they’re actually performing better than those on other teams, or whether the manager is being too generous. 

(Shortform note: While Hughes Johnson recommends using data analysis to calibrate your performance reviews, other experts argue that this analysis isn’t necessary at smaller companies. Rather, they maintain that human resources professionals (who perform the calibration) should conduct one-on-one meetings with every manager in smaller companies to understand how these managers assess their employees. These conversations will show you which managers tend to be stricter or more generous in their assessments, which in turn allows you to manually calibrate performance reviews.)

Part #3: Determine Changes to Compensation

Finally, after you’ve gathered and adjusted your feedback, it’s time to rely on your compensation philosophy to determine whether to give your employee a raise. Your compensation philosophy, Hughes Johnson explains, is your guiding framework for determining how much compensation any given employee should receive. And although she doesn’t offer concrete advice for establishing a compensation philosophy, she suggests that incorporating some component of merit—such that higher performance is met with higher compensation—is a prudent way to continue to motivate your employees.

(Shortform note: There are several popular compensation philosophies that different companies employ. For example, market pay bases compensation on the standard rates that other companies offer for similar positions, with the possibility to move from low, medium, or high market compensation. Equal pay, by contrast, bases compensation on the principle that all employees should be paid equally, regardless of their official position.)

How to Write Employee Reviews: The 3 Parts of an Evaluation

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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