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Master Your Reviews: Top 10 Performance Appraisal Methods


Reviews can be intimidating –– whether you're the one receiving feedback or giving it. Performance reviews are essential when it comes to tracking and celebrating employee accomplishments, but they can also lead to frustration and confusion. We've compiled the top 10 performance appraisal techniques for you to master since we know you want to provide an excellent experience for everyone involved.

These tried-and-true techniques are created to increase the impact of your evaluations while appreciating the time and work put forth by everyone involved. From structured conversations that focus on team goals and objectives, to less formal check-ins, there's something for everyone on our list, particularly great for capturing the impact an employee has had on the organization as a whole, rather than just their job performance.

Participants in these reviews typically include:

  • The direct supervisor

  • Peers/Colleagues

  • Customers/clients

  • Employees (they can self-report)

Whether you're a manager running a review session or an employee being reviewed, these tips will help you open a dialogue about performance and develop well-rounded feedback that everyone can learn from. Let's get started!

1. Self Reviews: What Employees Should Know

Making sure that you and your team are performing at their peak is essential for any business and it starts with effective performance appraisals. These evaluations not only measure how well you’ve done but can be used to plan for the future and set goals.

Self-reviews are an important part of the performance review process and can provide valuable insight into how you perceive your progress. Here’s what employees should know when completing a self-review:

  • Set realistic goals: It’s important to accurately assess your performance by setting goals that are realistic and attainable.

  • Be honest with yourself: Your goal should be to identify any areas where you need improvement. Don’t be afraid to be truthful about your weaknesses as well as any successes.

  • Give examples: Provide examples of tasks or projects where you succeeded or exceeded expectations. Providing specific details will help employers better understand your work ethic and abilities.

  • Track progress: Use the self-review process as an opportunity to reflect on your successes and failures throughout the year, while keeping track of areas where improvement is needed.

2. 360 Degree Reviews: Getting Input From Everyone

360-degree reviews are a great way to get feedback from all sides of the performance conversation. Instead of just one or two, this review process involves managers, peers, and even the employee themselves reviewing performance. It gives a more holistic view of an employee’s performance than traditional reviews – and is Subordinates (if applicable)

The idea is that everyone involved sees and experiences the same person in a different way which helps paint a more comprehensive picture. 360 Degree Reviews are useful in measuring interpersonal skills and how well an employee takes feedback and interacts with their co-workers. This method offers a unique opportunity to provide insight into how well team members work together, something that’s not easy to glean from other forms of review.

3. Management by Objectives: Setting Goals

When it comes to performance appraisals, Management by Objectives (MBO) is a popular choice. The idea behind it is that managers and their employees set specific, measurable goals together—that way, both parties understand and are passionate about what's being worked on in the organization.

MBO works by having the manager and employee outline objectives together, such as improving customer satisfaction or meeting a sales target. Then, throughout the review period, evidence of progress toward achieving these goals is collected and evaluated during performance reviews.

Here are some key advantages of MBO:

  • It encourages goal-setting among staff

  • It increases motivation by giving employees ownership over their responsibilities

  • It allows for more accurate measurement of progress against objectives than more subjective methods.

  • It provides a standard for judging employee performance objectively

MBO can help provide an honest assessment of an employee’s skills and knowledge. Plus, if you manage with clear objectives in mind from the start, you can ensure that your reviews are more effective as well as consistent.

4. Forced Ranking Method: Knowing Your Place

We all know that order of rank matters and the Forced Ranking Method helps you determine just where everyone stands. The concept is simple—put all of your employees on a list and assign each one a ranking position. This can be used in addition to other performance appraisal methods and is quite different from traditional methods of performance reviews.

So why is this method so popular?

  • Establishing A Clear Gap: The clear gap is an intentional effort to compare employees against one another for performance. It can identify who your “top performers” are, who your “underperformers” are, and those in between—which may be beneficial for employers to identify the training needs of their staff.

  • Spotting Talent Quickly: With this method, employers can spot talent quickly—especially those who may not even show up on the radar when using other methods. It can help organizations find the stars or diamonds in the rough that may be overlooked by traditional methods.

The Forced Ranking Method works best in combination with employee feedback programs, letting organizations identify top performers more quickly and set expectations with clarity:

  • Employees are aware that they are being compared to their peers (which increases overall motivation)

  • Identifications of discrepancies between performance rankings and potential

5. Assessment Centres: Evaluating Skill Sets

Eh, assessment centers can be a bit of a pain to organize, so they don't come up often in performance appraisals. But they can be a great way to measure different skill sets.

At an assessment center, you'll evaluate one or more employees based on their capabilities and potential. This might include designing tests to measure job-related skills, such as problem-solving or report-writing — things that wouldn't necessarily come up during typical performance reviews.

It's also a great opportunity for management to observe employees in the same environment, rather than conducting individual interviews for each person. Assessment centers allow for greater accuracy when measuring skills related to job performance, leading to better decision-making down the line.

Here's what an assessment center usually looks like:

  1. Initial screening: Candidates fill out questionnaires beforehand to get baseline info on skills and abilities.

  2. Testing: Candidates take written tests as well as group activities that measure decision-making qualities and problem-solving abilities - all in a professional setting with experienced staff members monitoring each candidate's performance.

  3. Presentation & Observation: After the tests are completed all candidates will be required to deliver a short presentation and then their answers are observed by their peers, who provide feedback on how each candidate presented themselves during the presentation round.

  4. Final Decision: During the final stage of the assessment center process all results from the testing, observation, and feedback rounds are evaluated by staff members and HR representatives who make the final decision on which candidate will be successful in the role being assessed for at the assessment center.

6. Balance Scorecard Technique: Establishing Accountability

The balanced scorecard technique is an effective way of establishing accountability throughout the business. It helps to focus on the strategic initiatives of a business and bridge the gap between strategy and execution by linking performance measures to specific objectives.

The technique consists of four main areas: the customer perspective, internal processes, learning and growth perspective, and financial perspective. Each area provides a snapshot of how the organization is fairing in those areas and provides feedback for areas where improvement can be made.

By doing this, it creates an environment in which employees understand how their actions impact each core area of the organization, creating accountability for both successes and failures. It also ensures that workers are focused on what’s important to the organization’s bottom line and allows senior management to be better informed about how each area is performing.

The balanced scorecard technique can help you identify threatening trends before they become serious problems as well as stay ahead of the competition by evaluating customer demand and expectation. It makes it possible to go above and beyond with customer service while staying within budget constraints.

7. Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales (BARS): Understanding Competence

BARS, or Behaviourally Anchored Rating Scales, is a method of performance appraisals that involve rating employees based on how well they meet the defined behavioral expectations for each job role. It helps provide more detailed feedback about employee performance, with specific areas to appreciate successes and identify areas of improvement.

Essentially, it breaks down the competencies into key performance indicators (KPIs) and looks at how their behavior meets those standards. Say you want to assess an employee’s problem-solving skills – you can assign criteria such as ‘resolves conflicts’, ‘identify risks’, and ‘generate innovative solutions’. The employee can be rated on these criteria on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being the lowest).

BARS helps to demystify the mystery around what goes into a rating, making it easier for both managers and employees to get on the same page when assessing performance. Plus, because it provides tangible examples of behavior in different scenarios, it makes objective evaluation easier and more reliable.

8. Job Grading Method: Ranking and Pay Grades

The job grading method is one of the most widely used performance appraisal methods. It involves placing employees into job grades according to the complexity of their work, and then giving them corresponding pay grade levels. It's based on a structured system that helps employers standardize their wage scales and make it easier for employees to know where they stand in terms of salary.

The benefits of this method include:

  • Perfect for assessing jobs with different levels of responsibility or skill sets.

  • Allows for a simple comparison between the job roles and their corresponding grades

  • Easy to use since it does not require detailed information about each employee's performance

  • Simplifies decision-making about increases and promotions based on job revenue models

However, there are also some drawbacks:

  • This can potentially lead to bias as subjective opinions come into play during the evaluation process

  • Not as effective when using more complex work structures that can span over multiple grades or when they involve unique job roles.

  • May encourage employees to stay in an assigned job grade rather than take risks or seek additional responsibilities.

9. Critical Incident Technique: Writing What Happens

The ninth most popular performance appraisal method is the Critical Incident Technique. This involves collecting information about employee performance by writing down specific examples of what happened (or didn't happen). This method helps pinpoint issues, trends, or areas that need improvement through feedback.

More specifically, managers document (in detail) specific incidents that either positively or negatively impacted job performance. During the appraisal process, the manager will review these incidents and their associated behaviors with the employee to discuss successes and opportunities for improvement.

When it comes to this particular appraisal method, some advantages include:

  • It provides a detailed report of particular incidents which allows for constructive feedback when evaluating an employee's job performance.

  • It identifies areas where improvement may be needed.

  • It provides a more detailed report on job performance than just ratings or rankings.

  • It focuses on what is done rather than opinion-based observations.

The Critical Incident Technique can be incredibly useful for employers who want to accurately document an employee's job performance in detail. Plus, it offers valuable insight into an employee’s potential strengths and weaknesses— making it easier to set clear expectations and goals with greater precision and accuracy.

10. Peer Review Programs: Benefits of Colleagues' Perspectives

The peer review program is the final performance appraisal technique you should be aware of. It's a fantastic approach to gain insight from others who already know what makes a great contribution and can assist one another to get even better.

The fact that this kind of review is often less formal allows more frank and honest criticism and can foster relationships among coworkers making it even better. Furthermore, when you receive input from a person who has performed the job, they can speak to their experiences and provide expertise in ways that managers or HR may not always have access to.

The Pros

Here are some benefits of using peer reviews as a tool:

  • It gives teams the chance to publicly congratulate one another on their accomplishments.

  • By enabling employees to benefit from one another, it raises morale.

  • Establishing safe venues for discussion about various suggestions for development promotes collaboration.

  • It promotes trust by fostering an atmosphere of free speech and respect for one another.

The Cons

Of course, peer reviews have certain disadvantages as well, such as

  • The possibility of bias when someone in a similar position to you may have different expectations for the performance standards or criteria being employed.

  • Receiving criticism from peers may make some people uncomfortable, which, if not handled effectively, could result in unpleasant emotions or wounded feelings.

  • In larger firms with individuals dispersed across numerous departments or geographically dispersed teams, the time-consuming aspect of compiling multiple self-evaluations and having multiple talks with coworkers could be a barrier.


Measuring performance reviews can feel overwhelming and confusing. Finding an appraisal system that works for you and your staff is the key to success.

The top 10 performance appraisal techniques covered in this article can assist you in de-stressing the review procedure so you can concentrate on giving your staff members insightful, practical feedback.

Whichever approach you use, the most important thing is to consistently assess performance and deliver positive feedback on time. This will help you create an engaged and productive workplace, where your employees can grow and achieve success.


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