Over the years I have seen many variations on employee performance reviews. I think the most important item is that companies actually hold reviews, no matter how small, with a minimum of semi annually but ideally quarterly performance reviews. This will help you career path and retain exceptional talent, realign job responsibilities based on someones abilities and/or desires as well as manage people out that are not a good fit.
I personally prefer the score card where an employee rates their own performance and compares that to their managers review and they discuss the strengths an weaknesses from a 360 degree view.
Here are 10 questions to include in an employee performance review:
1) What do you see as the primary drivers of success in our organization?
2) What do you see as the top opportunities for us to increase our organizational performance (e.g., increase market share, drive customer satisfaction, reduce cost, improve processes, etc.).
3) What do you feel your greatest win/success has been over the past 6 months?
4) List specific contributions to your team, the company or to a customer
5) What do you need from me in order to be even more successful in your role?
6) What short- and long-term developmental activities are you interested for your current / future role?
7) Do you have a mentor and if not could I help you identify someone who could provide you career guidance?
8) How would you describe the corporate culture here? What leadership opportunities could you take to improve company culture?
9) Rate your job satisfaction and describe the things that you feel were the biggest contributing factors to that rating.
10) What feedback or questions do you have for me as it relates to your goals and objectives for the next 6 months?
A standardized review form across all employees held within the same week, will ensure that the reviews are perceived as fair and equitable. I suggest to my employees that they keep a running list of their accomplishments and organizational items that they feel helped/impeded them or the customer experience as they come up. This way they wont forget what they have done. It can be a great sense of pride to have an employee with a big long list of wins, contributions and accomplishments.