Build great Teams – People management

Evaluation – Write A ‘Good’ One

Evaluation – Write A ‘Good’ One

Create a well-written evaluation to share with your employees as part of your annual review process. In it, reflect on the goals that you agreed with them at the start of the year.

Be clear about the strengths that the employee has demonstrated. Equally, be clear about any areas of weakness that have shown up, where there is an opportunity for improvement. Mention any development needs that have emerged, and above all write it in a fair, balanced and constructive way.

A Scenario To Consider

Let’s consider this scenario: Sam is a mid-level trainer who delivers technical training as part of a team of trainers. She has lots of technical experience and two years of experience delivering training, so she is not considered new to the role, but she is not a senior trainer. Her role requires (as reflected in her SMART goals) that she

  • Liaise with the client representative before a training session.
  • Interact with the participants who attend the training sessions.
  • Deliver three five-day classes per month to share the workload between the team.
  • Work under pressure since many classes are scheduled at the last minute.
  • Use the final week of the month to work with the team on course development (updating course materials and developing new course material). Work with the team to address customer feedback issues from previous classes.
  • The Outcome

    So how did Sam do? Sam’s manager has directly observed how she interacts with the team and her performance in front of a class. Sam was also asked to fill out a self-evaluation that her manager has read. Sam’s manager asked for feedback from her team members and her manager reviewed feedback collected from the clients. Sam’s manager concluded the following based on all the evidence he had seen:

  • Sam delivered all required classes.
  • She was often in a bad mood trying to fit everything in, and did not always work well with the team.
  • She was not rude to any clients, but she came close on a few occasions.
  • Sam is a perfectionist which has led to frustration with the fast turnaround time when preparing classes.
  • Team members complained she did minimal work to develop course material.
  • Any courses she did develop, she developed alone and not with the team.
  • The work she did in developing and updating classes was excellent.
  • She did not participate in team sessions to address customer feedback issues.
  • Overall she is seen as not meeting the goals that were set, apart from the number of classes delivered – which she did achieve.
  • The First Attempt At Writing An Evaluation

    The Evaluation as written by the manager:

    Sam did not meet the goals set. She delivered classes as required, but that’s about all she achieved. She did not work well with the team.

    Hopefully you agree that this is not helpful to Sam. It is unlikely to motivate her in the future. It says she achieved none of the goals when actually she delivered the required number of classes. That makes the evaluation as written factually incorrect. The rest is not helpful because it provides no details, and includes no positive feedback. It’s all negative and does not give any indications of areas of focus where Sam could work to improve.

    What Does A Good Written Evaluation Look Like?

    To write a ‘good’ evaluation, share any strengths the employee demonstrated. Equally, be clear about areas where there is an opportunity for improvement. Make sure the comments in your evaluation are specific to the goals. Include examples whenever possible for both positive and negative outcomes so the employee can clearly see how everything ties up. Mention training needs that have emerged as a result of the review, and any other development goals for the future.

    Try to avoid excessive criticism or excess use of negative words. If the employee performed poorly, you can still minimize the number of negative words you use and turn some of the negatives into training needs and development opportunities to at least make it constructive. Avoid specific details on salary increases, promotions, or bonuses. Conversations about compensation and promotions should be separate from performance reviews. However poorly the employee performed, avoid threats of disciplinary action. This should be covered during compensation and career development discussions. Avoid placing emphasis on personality traits rather than productivity and results.

    If your company uses a rating scheme, make sure the rating you give matches your company’s scheme. Include the rating you are giving explicitly so it’s very clear to the employee what the overall result is.

    The Improved Written Evaluation

    A better-written evaluation for Sam might be:

    Sam did not meet the expectations for a person performing the role of a trainer. She was not able to adapt well to the last-minute nature of client needs, and was not able to work well under pressure. She was not able to channel her frustrations into a positive outcome. Sam is capable of effectively communicating with peers and clients, but she needs to improve her team-building and collaboration skills if she wishes to succeed in this position. I am encouraged by Sam’s drive for personal excellence. I believe she will be able to channel this energy in a more professional manner with more training and experience in time management, active listening, and working in a team.

    In Summary

    Typically your written evaluation will be the only documented record of the review. You owe it to your employees to make sure that this record is accurate, fair and helpful to them.

    My Question To You

    Do you provide written evaluations for your employees? If not, why not? Do you know how to write a fair and helpful evaluation? If this is something you would like to discuss or would like some help with, contact me at You can also buy my book Accelerate to Team Success which is available as a paperback or on Kindle.


    About the Author:

    Nikki Faulkner photo Dr Nikki Faulkner founded Mulberry Bush Consulting to work with business leaders and their teams to make the 'People' side of their business as effective as possible. Mulberry Bush Consulting's specialty is helping small businesses who are new to having employees and helping businesses who are growing rapidly and increasing their employee-base at a rate that is creating a significant challenge.

    You are not alone and we can help.

    We offer a Team Success program that will help you build a successful team that will support you, freeing you up to spend your time and energy growing your business.

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