The goal of performance reviews is to give employees feedback about how well they did their jobs during the evaluation period and where there is room for improvement. Employees often dread performance reviews because they fear criticism. While constructive criticism is necessary for improvement, you can make the review process less dreadful for employees by also using it as an opportunity to praise their strengths.

Step 1.

Start by expressing your appreciation. Thank the employee for his dedication to the company and to his job. This sets a positive tone for the rest of the performance review.

Step 2.

Note any big accomplishments and projects the employee undertook. Employees often don’t do things the way their supervisors would like. However, if the job gets done and the end product is a good one, it’s important to focus on the big picture rather than the details.

Step 3.

State all the things the employee did right, leading to the successful completion of major projects or duties. Essentially, you’re breaking big tasks into smaller ones so the employee understands that you see everything that went into those big accomplishments you named before.

Step 4.

List the employee’s best characteristics, such as demonstrated commitment to punctuality, attention to detail and strong work ethic. Back each up with concrete examples. For instance, if telling the employee that he has a strong work ethic, you could reference an instance in which he rolled up his sleeves and helped colleagues bang out a difficult presentation.

Step 5.

Note any areas in which you noticed marked improvement. For instance, if during the previous evaluation cycle, you asked him to work on his punctuality and he has since been on time every day, thank him for his effort so that he knows you noticed.

Step 6.

Provide the employee with positive comments from others he reported to or worked with during the performance evaluation, if your appraisal process allows for gathering 360-degree feedback.

Step 7.

End this portion of the review by telling the employee how all the strengths you’ve identified have resulted in value added for the organization. By this point, you should have completely described all the employee’s strengths. You are now ready to move on to areas of growth.