Performance review letters are essential. They provide employees with a supervisor's written assessment of job performance. They identify the employee's strengths and weaknesses, and give an overall assessment of their contributions to the organization. For employees, a review letter is useful in developing a plan for improvement, but it also conveys an important message to the employee – that he is a valued contributor. The complimentary areas of review letters give employees feedback that encourages them to sustain good job performance. An employee review letter often is used when there is no specific format or performance review form that the company uses to evaluate staff performance.

Job Duties and Responsibilities

Well-written employee review letters first set out the employee's job duties and responsibilities. This is fundamental to the review so the employee and supervisor are starting from the same understanding of what the job entails. This portion of the employee review letter needn't be a full recitation of the employee's job description, provided it includes basic job functions and tasks.

Performance Expectations

When supervisors rate employee performance, they base their ratings on performance expectations. For example, a relationship-focused performance expectation might be that the employee sustain collegial working relationships with her peers, subordinates and customers, and cultivate relationships with new customers. Performance expectations are likely to focus on specific job responsibilities, such as attention to detail, quality and quantity of work product, working collaboratively with team members and overall motivation to succeed.

Supervisor Ratings

Employee review letters often contain numerical ratings, generally on a scale of 1 to 5. However, many supervisors give qualitative assessments of employee performance in addition to numerical ratings. The combination of both a numerical rating and the supervisor's written assessment is useful for understanding the rationale for the supervisor's rating. The rating scale is especially helpful in determining what wage increase is appropriate.

Employee Performance Summary

This section of the review letter typically is an overall summary of the employee's performance, the supervisor's recommendation for improvement and the potential for employee development and growth within the company. In the final paragraph of the employee review letter, give feedback on the employee's performance and ask the employee to acknowledge receipt of the letter, so you can include it in the employee's HR folder.

Sample Employee Review Letter

Dear Ms. Smith,

This employee review letter contains an evaluation of your job performance for the period [insert date] through [insert date]. For the numerical rating, the following rating scale was used:

  • 5  Clearly outstanding – exceeded all position goals and duties
  • 4 Above expectations  – met all position goals or duties and in many instances exceeded them
  • 3  Met expectations – met practically all position goals and, in some instances, exceeded them
  • 2  Below expectations – failed to meet position goals or duties and met them only partially; marked improvement necessary
  • 1  Clearly unsatisfactory – performance of goals or duties is unacceptable

Job Knowledge – 5: Ms. Smith excels regarding knowledge of her job. She uses appropriate information, procedures and materials, and acquires new techniques for performing her job duties. In addition, she expands her job knowledge to other areas.

Quality of Work – 4: Ms. Smith thoroughly researches each subject matter for which she is responsible, and edits, proofs and checks her own work to ensure there are no errors or inaccuracies. She provides our clients with timely, accurate and substantial work.

Communication/Interpersonal Skills – 5: Ms. Smith communicates effectively with managers, peers and customers. Importantly, she demonstrates the ability to work cooperatively as part of a team.


Ms. Smith has continued to perform above expectations in her role as project manager. She clearly demonstrates the ability to juggle multiple tasks. She is one of the most dedicated employees we have in the company. She has a passion for learning and expanding her skills and takes initiative to research and develop new competencies and gain new knowledge. She also has exceptional organizational skills and great client interaction and relationships.

Recommended areas of focus for continued personal and professional development would be interpersonal communications, self-awareness and maintaining a level of appropriate distance and professionalism with customers and subordinates. Ms. Smith can continue to improve overall performance in the coming year by focusing on the softer skills of project management and being able to both accept and deliver feedback in an empathetic manner.

Please acknowledge receipt of this employee review letter, and if you have any questions, let me know as I am always available to discuss your performance.


Company Manager