Your HR System and Smarts for SME Success

How to document a performance review

7 things to remember when recording your annual staff assessments. 

Documenting your employee’s performance review correctly is just as important as the face-to-face meeting.

Don’t stress, you won’t be bogged down in paperwork if you follow a consistent format.

The payoff is, well documented assessments make it easy for you (and your employee) to review performance progress – or regress. Plus, they can help reduce your legal risk if an employee needs to be performance managed or even dismissed.

Firstly, as a general rule, when recording your judgements try to express your observations as neutral facts – especially when giving any negative feedback.

On the flip side, if you’re providing positive feedback, it’s best to combine specific achievements with character-based praise. This shows you value the employee as an individual, which can generate pride and boost motivation, according to the Performance Reviews: (HBR 20-Minute Manager Series). The more information you can provide, the more likely the employee will be to repeat, and even improve, their good work.

To help guide you through how to document your performance reviews, here are six key components worth factoring in.

  1. Essential information

This should come at the top of the document and include the basics such as the date, employee name, department, employment status, manager name and performance period. Get this information right now, and you will only need to make minor amendments for the next review.

  1. Performance goals rating system

To determine the rating you wish to assign to each of your employee’s performance goals, DiffuzeHR suggests using a numerical system – for example:

  • 1 being outstanding
  • 2 exceeds targets
  • 3 meets targets
  • 4 needs improvement
  • 5 unsatisfactory
  • NA for developing or not applicable

Using this system means when you and the employee both give a separate rating it should be clear what your agreed rating will be. This also helps form the discussion points around KPIs and whether the employee is reaching their targets.

  1. Job skills and personal attributes

These objectives might include sections such as Accountability, Initiative, Attention to Detail and Teamwork. Your review document should include space for the employee to comment including examples tHR apps at workhat back up the rating they give themselves. There should be a space for you (or the manager) to comment. And finally a section for explaining the final rationale for the agreed rating. Remember to record your observations about your employee’s job performance as objectively as possible, and tie your conclusions to hard data. By supporting your assessment with specific examples the employee can see exactly where they can improve. If the employee’s work is substandard, you suspect they might need to be performance managed, or even dismissed being able to provide documents that outline the steps you took to try and correct any performance issues will help reduce your legal risk if the matter ends up in court.

  1. Position description review

Before going any further, it’s important to review your employee’s existing position description to make sure it’s still relevant. During the course of a year, or even six months, many aspects of your employee’s role can change as your business grows or targets shift. Now’s the time to make any updates necessary to ensure your employee’s job description and KPIs reflect their current and ongoing role.

  1. Development objectives

Here’s where you ask the employee to indicate what areas they would like to focus on during the coming months. In this section of the review document you can include questions such as: What new skills or behaviours would you like to work on in the coming year to support you in your role? Or: Are there any professional development opportunities you would like to undertake, relevant to your career goals?

  1. Overall performance review rating

Ask the employee to give an overall rating of their performance for the year. Then, you do the same, and together you agree on the final rating. This is also where some forethought into the final message you would like to leave the employee with can be helpful. For example, Performance Reviews suggests writing down three things the employee did well during the year and two areas that most need improvement. Then, ask yourself: “What’s the single most important takeaway I want the employee to remember?” Refine your message to one key idea, this is your overall impression of their performance.

  1. Sign off

It seems obvious, but be sure both you and the employee sign and date the document to show you’re in agreement about it’s contents.

Download our Performance Review Template here.

This information is provided as a guide only and DiffuzeHR makes no warranties as to its suitability and completeness for your specific individual use.

DiffuzeHR is transforming the way SMEs approach HR by giving them access to an easy-to-use, cloud-based system (and the smarts) to systemize and simplify, ramp professionalism, and gain proactive control. DiffuzeHR helps SMEs by allowing them to minimise risks, reduce legal fees, decrease time spent on admin, attract and retain staff, and leverage best-practice, industry-specific HR and legal expertise in a way that is simple, easy, and efficient.

To learn more about the benefits of automating HR with DiffuzeHR, please book a demo at

Share this Blog!

Barry Lehrer

Having run my own small business for over twenty years, I understand one of the biggest challenges is protecting your business from potentially damaging personnel or HR issues. That’s why I developed Diffuze.

  • Thank you for your interest. Please provide some general details and our brochure will be emailed to you.