In the highly competitive business world, remaining productive and innovative are tantamount to success. Corporations are increasingly utilizing performance appraisals to ensure that all employees are working at optimal capacity while staying focused on overall business objectives. Several tools are available to help streamline the appraisal process, making it less burdensome for both supervisors and their direct reports.

Rating Scales

One of the most common, and generic, performance appraisal tools is the rating scale, which rates employee performance in various areas on a sliding scale from poor to excellent, for example. According to the Archer North & Associates website, the rating scale generally assesses employee traits like cooperation, communication ability, initiative, punctuality and technical (work skills) competence. These scales are easy to use and interpret, but because of their generality, may not always be applicable to every employee's job duties.

360-Degree Feedback Surveys

A modern approach to performance appraisal involves the 360-degree feedback process. This method solicits anonymous feedback from a number of individuals who work regularly with the employee who is being reviewed, which typically include supervisors, peers, subordinates, clients and other colleagues. Feedback forms, which can either be paper- or Internet-based, are distributed to all of the parties that will participate and they often cover the areas of teamwork, integrity, effective leadership, client communication and overall competence.

Appraisal Software

Many corporations have begun to abandon traditional pen-and-paper-based performance appraisal tools and instead are turning to computerized software applications that make the task more automated. According to the article "Appraisal Software Versus Pen and Paper," which was published on the Mansueto Ventures website, some of the advantages to using a software appraisal tool include general ease of use and accessibility, making it easy for managers to constantly enter new data on employees throughout the performance year.


Self-assessments force employees to rate their own performances, in their own words. This is an important appraisal tool because it demonstrates how the employee's perception of his or her performance compares to the perception of others. According to the Success Factors website, self-assessments should require the employee to restate job objectives, highlight significant achievements, state why the achievements matter, emphasize when actions or conduct were an important factor in success and acknowledge challenges.