When writing a performance evaluation letter, someone should consider the purpose of the letter within a larger context and provide information for the evaluated individual that is useful and meaningful. There are a number of approaches that can be used in evaluating the performance of an individual, including both quantitative and qualitative methods, though an evaluation that includes both is usually most effective. Those people who are the subject of a performance evaluation letter, such as employees at a company, should also understand the consequences of a poor evaluation or the rewards for an excellent one, such as probationary measures and career advancement.
The purpose of a performance evaluation letter should have an impact upon the actual creation of that letter. Someone writing a letter to evaluate the performance of an employee on an annual basis, for example, should be sure to include information that is helpful to the evaluated person as an ongoing employee. A performance evaluation letter written as a letter of recommendation, on the other hand, is not typically intended as a way to promote improvement of an employee, but to highlight his or her strengths and weaknesses. An understanding of this primary purpose for the letter can guide the person writing it.
Once the purpose is understood by someone writing a performance evaluation letter, then he or she should choose the best method of evaluation possible. In some situations, a quantitative evaluation that deals with specific numbers, such as sales figures or time spent on a project, should be considered. Not all jobs, however, can be quantitatively analyzed and so a qualitative performance evaluation letter that deals in observations and the views of others to consider the strengths and weaknesses of a person may be preferable. Each of these methods has inherent weaknesses, however, and so many evaluators prefer utilizing both of them together for a more effective evaluation.
As someone is writing a performance evaluation letter, he or she should also ensure that the subject of the evaluation understands the importance of the process. If employees within a company are typically eligible for promotion based heavily upon the results of such an evaluation, then they should understand that. The purpose of a performance evaluation letter is not to surprise employees or others with an analysis of their work, but to provide useful and meaningful feedback to them regarding their performance. Unfair evaluations or promotion practices can lead to employee dissatisfaction, loss of workers, and even lawsuits; care should be taken by an evaluator to ensure methods are used that provide a fair and impartial analysis of skills, combined with clear communication that helps employees understand what is expected of them.