You might be surprised to find out that something as standard as employee performance appraisals are actually a bit of a touchy subject in the world of human resources. There are a good number of major companies that have faced them out entirely in favor of ongoing feedback methods. But, while that might be true, the majority of businesses still rely on the time-worn tradition of annual or quarterly employee performance appraisals. In all this, though, the lowly performance appraisal template is still the workhorse.

For companies that are still dedicated to conducting performance reviews, you’ll usually use one of a few methods—either hardcopy paper, email, or one-on-one interviews. Regardless of the method, though, you’ll still need to draw up an appraisal form. However, you may find that one form doesn’t fit all. An easy way to create a form that’s flexible enough for every department in your business is to use a template. Download the ebook “The Skeptics Guide to Performance Management and get started on improving your performance management process.

Performance Appraisal Template

In this article, we’ll look into some of the ways that using a template can benefit your performance appraisal process and what a template should look like. That should get you started on crafting the most effective performance appraisal form possible.

What Are Performance Appraisals?

Just so that we’re on the same page, performance appraisals are essentially just a conversation between employees and their supervisors to check that everyone is still working in line with the company’s objectives. Performance appraisals consist of two parts—evaluation and feedback. This process hopes to correct any inefficiencies and motivate employees for the future. This works by looking back over past performance as it relates to the employee’s goals and expectations and providing constructive feedback as to how the employee can improve and how they can continue to find success.

Why Do You Need Appraisal Templates?

If a performance appraisal is essentially just a conversation, then why do you need appraisal forms? Is it not enough to just sit down and talk? Those are all excellent questions, but remember that organized documentation is the backbone of any business. Keeping clear records helps protect both management and employees and having employee expectations and the organization’s objectives written in a straightforward document prevents any miscommunication.

Using an appraisal form lets supervisors, HR, and the employee all walk away with a hard copy of what was discussed in the performance appraisal. This is crucial for employees because they’ll have ready access to their feedback and expectations. They’ll know what strengths they should continue to display and also what weaknesses they should work on.

Appraisal forms are also useful when it comes time to give promotions and raises, as they act as physical evidence of an employee’s performance. The same can be said of having to fire an employee. If the employee files a wrongful termination case, the performance review acts as a legal shield to evidence that the employee was not performing at the level of expectation set by the company.

Creating Your Template

Alright, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the point. You wanted to know how to craft a flexible yet effective template. Understand that there are multiple types of appraisal forms, so the form that we will be discussing is the form you, as a supervisor, will likely use in the actual appraisal interview.

Because no two jobs use the same set of hard skills, you may be wondering how it’s possible to assess two different employees’ performances with the same form. This depends on what you’re looking to assess. Yes, assessing an employee’s specific skill-based performance would likely require a specific form, but by broadening it out to more general yet impactful skills, you can apply the same form to more than one position.

Consider the competencies that affect performance beyond just hard skills—leadership potential, timeliness, communication skills, teamwork, etc. These are skills that affect all jobs. So, what should you include in your template?

Employee Information

Obviously, you’ll need a space to note who you are appraising. Include the following:

Reviewer Information

Your template should also have room for the reviewing supervisor to write their information. Include the following:

A Rating System

The next thing to include in your performance appraisal template is a rating system. A clearly defined rating system shows the employee how they are being assessed and clarifies how they stack up in the appraisal. Rating systems also make it easier for supervisors to quantify how their employees have performed. They reduce variation and eliminate room for waffling.

The most commonly used rating scales are a 1 to 10 scale, in which supervisors provide a numerical rating, or a “below expectations” to “exceeds expectations” scale. Both systems work on the same principle, but some supervisors might find the wording of the latter scale more specific.

Time Period

Appraisals are traditionally held annually or semi-annually. Therefore, it’s important to make space on your template to note what the review period is. This way, employees understand how long they have to meet the new expectations, and supervisors can compare the employee’s performance since their last appraisal.

Goals and Evaluations

This should be the largest space on your template. Try to list out specific competencies that you’ll assess in the evaluation. This might look like a table or a checklist. As for goals, this is an area where you and the employee can collaborate to make new expectations for the future. They should relate back to the feedback given in the evaluation part.

Leave room for additional comments. This is a space to share your suggestions and honest opinion of the employee’s performance. Unlike goals, this space should be used to note the employee’s strengths and accomplishments.


At the bottom of the template, add two lines for the employee and reviewer to sign their names.


Following this format, you should be able to create a performance appraisal template that’s flexible enough to cover most job fields. Remember to make it specific to your company’s work culture, but don’t make it so tunnel-visioned that your template is limited to only one particular job. We hope this article has given you the information you need to prepare for the upcoming appraisal season. Should you need more help with your company’s performance management process, do not hesitate to contact us.