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Performance & Feedback

Performance appraisal form [template + writing tips]

Leapsome Team
Performance appraisal form [template + writing tips]
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Performance appraisals are crucial for businesses looking to improve performance and boost employee development. They help staff understand their current skills and enable managers to give actionable tips and tangible guidance on how to grow as professionals.

But creating a performance appraisal framework out of thin air can be time-consuming (not to mention a little daunting) when customizing it according to your employees’ various roles, skills, and goals.

That’s why, in this post, we’ll: 

  • Summarize what a good appraisal form is and why you need one
  • Describe what an effective performance appraisal form looks like
  • Explain how to create effective performance appraisal forms that you can tailor to each employee
  • Provide a performance appraisal form template you can adapt according to your needs 
  • Include tips on how our people enablement platform can help you improve your employee appraisal process

Let’s get started.

💡 Want to learn more about creating meaningful employee appraisal forms? 

👉 Save time and create effective roadmaps for growth with Leapsome’s Reviews module.

What is an employee performance appraisal form?

An employee performance appraisal form is a document that lets managers and employees take stock of current competency levels and measures how team members are doing when it comes to key skills.

Appraisal forms can combine staff self-assessment and feedback from managers, peers, reports, and even customers and external partners. They allow managers and HR/People Ops teams to identify skill gaps and, when linked to a competency framework, offer a roadmap for improvement and career growth.

Insights from performance appraisals can also help managers track development, provide information about hiring needs, and inform training budget allocation — all while showing your people that your organization supports their growth.

Two women having a performancn appraisal chat

Well-run appraisals can boost staff engagement and productivity

How to create performance appraisal forms 

The best performance appraisal reviews can be customized to fit various employee roles, abilities, and areas of improvement.

By following the steps below, you can change goals and skills depending on company needs and the employee’s role and seniority level — all while getting a tangible performance overview and a roadmap for their future training.

Taking an individualized approach while still following best practices tells staff that management takes a personal interest in their development, boosting a sense of belonging and engagement.

Leadership can also track how each team member is doing and get a bird’s eye view of any skills or hiring gaps.

Include a rating rubric

Including a numeric rating rubric for each skill or category enables both staff and managers to track performance at a glance. For example, skills ranked at three to five out of five might be seen as strengths, while skills evaluated at two or under would be areas for improvement.

Including space for additional comments alongside numbers gives participants a chance to explain the context or thinking behind a given score.

We recommend a five-point scale, but you could also use a ten-point scale or letter grades like A+ to D. Or even emojis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ if your company prefers!

Two women having a conversation and smiling

A good performance appraisal form showcases employee strengths and areas for improvement

Outline employee achievements

A good performance appraisal form can be personalized to include skills and goals that the employee is already excelling at, plus space for managers, employees, or peers to highlight strengths and achievements.

You can score employees on a set selection of skills or change up appraisal criteria depending on abilities, role, responsibilities, or level.

Ensuring that your appraisal form highlights areas for improvement and achievements allows for employees to see how they’re doing and receive recognition for their strengths. This kind of multilevel feedback will boost engagement and motivation.

Outline areas for improvement 

Areas for improvement are skills or goals that need more work. An employee may have fallen short of their intentions or need more practice or training to achieve the desired standard. 

Either way, a good appraisal form enables managers to highlight these skills while providing suggestions for improvement and action steps to take (such as more training). It’s crucial for employees to also have a space to reflect upon areas they’re struggling with openly and without judgment.

We recommend keeping your language relatively positive to avoid discouraging employees. Refer to “areas for improvement” rather than “failings” to maintain motivation. That also applies to the rating rubric outlined above.

💡 Keep in mind: Strong performance appraisal forms offer all participants (including reviewees) space to leave scores and include comments for more context

Appraisal form example

Your performance appraisal form can contain any questions relevant to your business, company values, and employees’ skills, responsibilities, or training needs. Here are some examples of different ways to set up these questions and assess employee development:

Assessing skills

Effective appraisal forms focus on a range of critical skills — which may include communication, motivation, critical thinking, results and delivery, innovation, and task ownership. Managers can score those competencies numerically; we recommend a five-point scale.

The image below shows a completed form from Leapsome’s Reviews module. In this example (which doesn’t include peer feedback or ratings from other stakeholders), a skill is scored twice: the first score out of five is from the manager, while the second score is the employee’s self-assessment.

User interface of Leapsome’s performance appraisals module
Having leadership feedback and self-assessment side-by-side lets employees see how their own assessment compares to their manager’s.

Including open-ended questions

Forms should also include open-ended questions that prompt more tailored responses; those can guide the reviewee and their manager on areas to focus on during the next review cycle.

User interface of Leapsome’s performance appraisals module

Linking reviews with goal setting

A people enablement platform like Leapsome allows you to seamlessly connect development goals and performance reviews.

The Leapsome forms below show development goals and current goal progress, with space for manager and employee to comment on goal success and plans.

User interface of Leapsome’s performance appraisals module
User interface of Leapsome’s performance appraisals module
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Employee appraisal form template

A performance review forms lives and dies by the quality of its questions.

As we’ve mentioned, skills (and questions about them) can be standardized according to company goals and values, or individualized according to employee strengths, level, responsibilities, and aims.

When delivered well (with constructive feedback and deserved praise), performance reviews are a powerful way to boost engagement and employee satisfaction. 

This, in turn, increases productivity and motivation and helps managers tweak employee career paths for even greater success for both them individually and the company as a whole. 

Best of all, Leapsome has a thorough performance appraisal template that’s available to download for free. It contains a core list of best-practice questions for your performance reviews — including leadership assessments and 360° appraisals.

Infographic by Leapsome with the title: Best-Practice Questions for Performance Reviews and useful examples for Simple Employee Review, 360 Review, and Leadership Review
📥 Download the full version of our best-practice questions for performance reviews

Example questions include: 

  • What do you consider to be your biggest achievement since your last review? 
  • What should you keep doing?
  • What should you work more on (i.e., change, improve)?
  • What do you consider to be your core strengths?
  • What is your most important development goal, and what support do you need to further develop in your role?

These questions are just some of the recommended ways to create the most effective performance reviews.

Improve your employee appraisal process with Leapsome

While it’s possible to put together your own forms for performance management cycles, manually tracking individual employees’ progress, personalizing forms for each staff member, and keeping all your documents in one place can become a major challenge — especially if your company is scaling fast.

Using a platform like Leapsome can improve performance reviews and automatically streamline your employee appraisal process. You can set up review processes by customizing ready-made templates, so you’re not starting from scratch.

Leapsome’s performance appraisal tool lets you view previous appraisals, easily tracking employee progress in one space. Employee data can also be set to automatically trigger reviews per cycle (or a different timeline).

Our platform’s features are also designed to boost employee engagement, grow talent and skills, and create a sense of belonging and progression among staff — saving you time, money, and effort compared to manual management.

Last, our integrations with the tools you already use (like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Jira) make Leapsome fit perfectly into your existing workflows. 

Leapsome can help you tailor performance reviews and ensure you get the best out of your team, developing success for your people and your growing business.

Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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