Be honest, does anyone enjoy performance review season? Employees hate the pressure to prove themselves, supervisors hate having to conduct the reviews, and HR hates having to maintain the massive inflow of new documentation. In fact, for HR, it’s almost a thankless time of the year. While employees and supervisors get so wrapped up in their own business, they tend to forget that there’s a lot that goes into creating the performance review process. It, however, starts with a great performance review template.

At almost every step in the process, there’s some sort of form or template that has to be drawn up beforehand. In this article, we’ll go through some of the most common performance review templates, look at what makes them effective, and explore how they can benefit your organization. Afterward, we hope you’ll leave with a little more sympathy for human resources.

Performance Review Templates

Standard Review Template Formats

Performance review templates come in two formats, a score card or a narrative. Score card review templates are built around a quantitative approach. They follow a numerical rating scale—usually from 1 to 10—and, as the reviewer goes through the list of employee expectations, they score the employee using a number. Simply grading employees with a number is not enough, though, so there should also be a comments section to explain why the employee received their score.

Rating scales should be consistent and clearly understandable. Supervisors and employees must be able to follow the rating.

Performance review templates built around a narrative structure have employees answer open-ended questions that supervisors use to gauge their performance qualitatively. This template style is meant to foster a two-way conversation between the employee and their supervisor.

Open-ended questions usually have the employee look back on their past progress and give examples of where they succeeded and where they could have improved. This style of template also places accountability at the employee’s feet.

In our opinion, a truly effective performance review template should follow a mixed method. Qualitative scales are excellent for providing a numeric performance grade, but open-ended narratives help to build feedback, comments, and future expectations. Start a 30-day free trial of eLeaP to take advantage of our customizable templates.

An Important Consideration

Performance review templates must be consistent and should be designed to make the review process as objective as possible. This is to prevent any legal hiccups down the road. Keep in mind that performance reviews are a form of documentation and can be used in court if an employee believes you have taken unlawful or wrongful action against them.

Using inconsistent performance review templates leaves you open to claims of discrimination and retaliatory claims of harassment or wage manipulation if you’ve demoted an employee. Creating objective and consistent forms acts as a guard against potentially disgruntled employees filing dishonest claims against you or your company. Should this happen, you’ll have hard evidence that the employee was not working according to expectations set by the company.

Types of Templates

With that out the way, let’s talk about the six most common types of templates. They can easily be made in Microsoft Word or Excel and can be exported as PDFs.

1. General Performance Review Templates

This is the type of form used by supervisors in a performance review interview. It’s used to assess an employee’s overall performance over a set period. These types of performance reviews are normally conducted once a year, quarter, or month. They are designed to evaluate past performance and provide feedback to motivate employees toward their future goals. This style is generally built around a quantitative scale with qualitative narrative questions to provide more detail.

2. Narrative Structure Performance Review Templates

This template style serves the same purpose as the general performance review template (1); however, it is different in its format. Whereas the general performance review template uses a mixed narrative/quantitative scale approach, this style of a template has supervisors rate employees using only long-form answers. This template style can be open to bias, though, so be careful using it.

3. Quantitative Scale Templates

These templates are like general performance review templates but eliminate open-ended questions. This style is great for covering a lot of areas at once, but they are limited in that they don’t provide adequate feedback.

4. Peer Review Templates

Peer reviews are less common in the corporate world, but they can be a useful tool for gathering information before the performance review. They provide insight into how an employee works in a team setting or in departmental meetings. Peer reviews generally have co-workers site instances of misconduct or inefficiency.

5. Self-Appraisal Templates

This style of performance review template is actually one of the most important. Although self-appraisals won’t be used in the review session, they provide a lot of useful information beforehand, and they give the employee a chance to take an active role in their review. Employees can present their perspectives, making the performance management process more equitable and two-sided.

6. 30-60-90 Templates

This style of review is a well-rounded template that incorporates peer-review feedback in the performance review. It hits on important job traits such as time management skills, leadership skills, and communication skills. This type of review template was designed to assess how well an employee contributes to the company. Its purpose is to find up-and-coming leaders who are dedicated to developing a healthier, friendlier office environment.


While not every office will use all six of these review templates, many offices incorporate self-appraisals, peer reviews, and general performance reviews into their performance management process. We recommend going through each style of the templates and finding what works best for your organization. No two companies have the same needs, so their performance review templates will likely not be the same. Should you want more information on how to craft effective performance review templates, feel free to contact us for further consultation. We are standing by, ready to assist! Download the ebook “The Skeptics Guide to Performance Management and get started on improving your performance management process.