Preparing a performance review for an employee requires the reviewer to include specific information in a written document. Avoid making vague or general statements and personal opinions that cannot be substantiated. By keeping a performance review document specific and clear, it becomes a useful document that can be kept in an employee's personnel file and referred to during the next review.

Active Tense

Writing in the active tense is a key to writing a performance review. When listing goals for the upcoming review period, start each of these goals with a verb. This phrasing calls the employee to action and tells him what to do. Some key active tense verbs to use in a performance review include "complete," "accomplish" and "produce." According to the American Foreign Service Association's website, writing in an active tense reduces the risk of confusion in goals and objectives written in the performance appraisal.

Define Pronouns

If pronouns are going to be used in a performance review, make sure it's clear to whom or what the pronoun refers. To do this, make sure you reference the group, person or task specifically at the beginning of the review, and use pronouns sparingly to refer back to it. Avoid using multiple pronouns in a performance review when they can be replaced by specific names, groups or organizations that can clarify the review.

Numbers and Metrics

Be specific when specifying goals. Be specific as well when referring to accomplishments made during the past review period. Refer to numbers whenever possible. Don't use broad phrases such as "above target" without defining what the target was. Using a precise target makes the review clear and specific, and limits the chance of confusion if it's referenced when the employee applies for a promotion or seeks a raise. Provide specific examples when providing these numbers. Saying somebody performed at a "higher-than-expected level" is much less precise than saying she "exceeded his goal of 20 reports completed this year by five reports, which was 25 percent over her stated goal."


Use dates in the performance review. These dates should refer to specific occasions during the past review period when giving the employee her review, with specific examples of positive or negative performance. When setting goals, include a date that the goal should be accomplished by. If it should be completed before the end of the current review period, include the date that the current review period will end. This helps clarify goals and make them specific.