Performance Appraisal Template With Tips

You’ve asked and we’ve been listening. We’ve put together this free performance appraisal template to help you get started. Explore our practical tips for using it to drive performance.

What should you include in a performance appraisal template?

Here’s our list of must haves:

  1. The staff member’s details
  2. A summary of the performance results achieved by the employee for the period under review
  3. A summary of the individual’s progress against performance development goals
  4. A rating system (if required for pay for performance processes)
  5. Space to note any general or career discussion items
  6. Agreed performance objectives for the new year or performance cycle
  7. Agreed performance development goals for the new year or performance cycle
  8. A place for the employee and supervisor to sign-off on the review and record any comments they would like to make

Tips for using your template

Don’t file it away
Staff performance is never going to change if you just fill in the employee appraisal template and forget about it. Performance needs to be more than a once a year discussion. That’s why more and more businesses are adopting what’s known as Agile Performance Management practices. In a nutshell, Agile Performance Management involves regular feedback (often delivered spontaneously in the moment) and regular short catch-ups sessions (to review progress against and objectives and goals throughout the year).

Take a development focus
Most business that adopt agile performance management use the annual performance appraisal as an opportunity to briefly consolidate and summarise all of the feedback and discussions that have occurred throughout the year before documenting performance goals for the future. The emphasis of staff appraisals should always be on performance development.

Have real conversations
According to the legendary Dave Ulrich (the so-called father of Modern HR) what matters most about performance appraisals is the quality of the conversations between an employee and his/her boss. A manager needs to be coach and communicator, not command and controller.(1)

Be SMART with performance goals
To turn a high potential employee into a high performing one you need to help them connect the dots. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timebound) performance goals help your people prioritise what is important and focus on what will make the most difference to the business.

For more information on implementing an effective performance appraisal process, see our article What is Performance Appraisal.

Beware the pitfalls of a paper based appraisal system

Before you use the template employee appraisal there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Paper gets lost. Staff need to work out where they are going to keep the completed performance appraisal template so it is easily accessible but won’t end up in the recycling bin.
Breaches of confidentiality. Accessible doesn’t mean on-show for the world to see. Employee appraisals are confidential documents and need to be treated as such.
Multiple copies. Employees and their Supervisors should have equal access to the performance appraisal template. Which begs the question, are they going to share the document, or are they going to make two copies? And if they do make copies, how are they going to keep all of them up-to-date and complete?
Sharing an electronic document. Even if you maintain an electronic copy of the staff appraisal template, you may run into other challenges like security access, forgetting to save notes, the potential for notes to be deleted or changed, and records left out because staff weren’t near a computer when feedback was provided.

A lot of these pitfalls can be completely eliminated by dedicated performance management software. Experts agree that using cloud based technology makes performance appraisals more efficient, flexible and easier to do.(2) Best of all, giving staff and supervisors access to performance data anytime and anywhere on mobile technology, ensures performance stays top of mind all year through.

Download our free printable performance appraisal template

We’ve created a free, easy to use template you can use to kickstart your performance appraisal process. Download a Performance Appraisal Template PDF.

Do Your Performance Appraisals Online

Get an obligation free trial of Cognology’s flexible web-based performance appraisal solution. Our performance appraisal system includes an objective library to make setting goals easier.  The library includes pre-written goals that can be modified based on the roles in your organisation and the strategic plan.


  2. Hunt, S. T. (2011). Technology is transforming the nature of performance management. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 4(02), 188-189.