A performance evaluation is a useful tool for small business managers. An effective appraisal addresses specific performance aspects in an objective manner. A good performance review emphasizes not only how well an employee is doing with his job responsibilities but also helps identify future objectives. The manager and employee need to view the evaluation as an opportunity to grow professionally.

Performance Aspects

Identify particular features of employee performance that are important to the company. Aim for five or six broad categories that reflect different aspects of the job. The headings might include things such as punctuality, customer service, time management, productivity and employee relations. These aspects can be refined to more clearly address the particular roles of various employees. This part of the review focuses on the big picture of how the employee is performing, while other sections will get into the details.

Rating Scale

You can choose from multiple measurement tools to score employees on the different aspects you identified as important to their work. A rating scale allows you to give an overall assessment of each feature. For example, you can create a numerical scale from one to five, with one meaning a very poor performance while five is exceptional. Similarly, you could assign letters to each aspect which resembles traditional school grading, with "A" as the highest rating and "F" as failing. Short phrases and single work attributions also serve to give overall impressions such as "needs improvement," "excelling" or "proficient." When you assign a scale, the employee must be made aware of what must be achieved to garner a specific rating.

Strenghts and Weaknesses

The performance evaluation should include a section in which the manager gives specific feedback regarding the strengths and weaknesses of employees. This section should allow room for the supervisor to write full comments. Lead with the positive attribute the worker possesses, such as conscientiousness and reliability. Follow this "good news" with any concerns you have regarding the employee's work, including issues such as inefficiency or difficulty in following directives. Give specific examples for positive and negative aspects to illustrate your comments. The National Center for Biotechnology Information warns managers to focus only on actions and not personalities, as this prevents bias.

Goals and Planning

An appraisal evaluation should conclude with specific goals for the employee to work toward during the next period. Give concrete suggestions for the worker to implement. For example, tell the employee she needs to increase her productivity and can do so by prioritizing her work tasks and limiting distractions such as personal telephone calls. Present the information in a direct, honest fashion while ensuring your employee knows you will provide her with all the tools and information she needs to improve areas of her performance.