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How to Write an Effective Performance Appraisal for an Employee's Annual Review

In most companies, the annual performance review cycle begins with an employee self-assessment of his or her performance and contributions. In a best-case scenario, managers should be involved in this employee evaluation—to guide it, manage expectations, and open the lines of communication with the employee.

Generally speaking, it is easy to get caught up in the details of writing the self-assessment and meeting deadlines and employees sometimes lose sight of the fact that the most important aspect of the self-assessment is the content—informing their managers of their achievements during the review period. It is also a prime opportunity to open a dialogue between the manager and employee, increasing the understanding of those achievements and expand clarity on the role expectations for each party.

How an employee perceives his or her job performance may be quite a bit different from the evaluations that are being done by his or her supervisor. This is often the product of factors, such as unrealistic expectations, a need for additional training, communication problems, or simply a manager's detachment from the day-to-day interactions with the staff members being supervised. An employee self-assessment evaluation is not only a chance for a worker to take control of his or her career by giving feedback on the current situation, but also to inform management regarding the need for training or necessary resources to make future success possible.

With online talent management solutions, companies are now able to easily conduct employee self-assessments throughout an organization and view the information from a strategic perspective. This information can be aggregated and analyzed from a team, departmental, or a company-wide view, enabling management to better understand the skill sets they possess in-house, and, of those which are performed well and which need developing or strengthening.

Self-evaluation for performance review guidelines

A clearly focused and well-written self-assessment has the following attributes:

  • Restates objectives.Paraphrasing job objectives gives the manager a clear picture of how well an employee understands job performance expectations.
  • Highlights most significant achievements.The assessment doesn't need to be lengthy; however it should highlight all of the major achievements during the review period. Don't forget about achievements made early on in the performance review period. With an online talent management system, this information can be entered into the database as it happens, otherwise the employee will need to keep a paper trail of earlier achievements.
  • States why the achievement matters.Show a cause and effect of the contribution. Describe how the achievement has profited the company in bottom-line results, either by increasing revenue or decreasing expenses. This information should paint a clear picture of how important your job and/or department is to the company.
  • Emphasizes when employee actions or conduct was an important factor in success.Employee conduct or behavior is commonly taken into account in the performance rating. Be sure to bring to light specific instances where behavior made a positive difference in the outcome of an objective.
  • Acknowledges challenges. The word "challenges" has a negative connotation. However, overcoming a challenge shows you are able to achieve goals despite setbacks or obstacles. These obstacles may be technical or personal or limited resources available that an employee may need to rise above.
  • Offers specifics to improve performance in the future.


We’ve all had to do them—as an employee and as a manager. The process of writing an employee self-assessment is not new, but the range of information that can be collected and analyzed has grown tremendously through the years. For managers, writing performance evaluations is never easy, but the performance evaluation process is necessary and vital to your business.

While the employee self-assessment does rely on the information provided by an individual, when used in conjunction with other performance management tools, such as 360-degree feedback, and goal management information, it allows the employee and supervisor to work together to set goals for employee development and career planning. This information, in turn, can be used to plot out team-wide or, even company-wide strategic possibilities for growth and improved performance.

About SAP SuccessFactors HCM

With SAP SuccessFactors solutions, we believe that purpose drives people and people drive business performance. To meet business goals today and be ready to digitally transform for the future, your organization must be able to attract, develop, and retain the best people — tapping into their full potential. We innovate every day to help connect your people to your purpose and transform your workforce experience, to inspire people to perform at their best, and develop the workforce needed for the future. With a leading cloud-based HCM suite, SAP SuccessFactors solutions help more than 6,400+ customers and over 100 million people, across more than 60 industries in over 200 countries and territories, turn purpose into performance. The SAP SuccessFactors brand is part of SAP, the market leader in enterprise application software. SAP helps companies run better, with applications and services that enable our customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and grow sustainably. For more information, visit or