[Updated July 2007 to correct broken links]
I'm in the midst of writing annual reviews. For the managers that report to me, I typically ask for input from people in their teams, people they interact with, and customers they work with. This is a great process, as you end up with a lot of different perspectives, stories, suggestions, kudos, etc.
One of my challenges in the past has been summarizing that in a concise, meaningful way. This year it was so much easier - it's the first year I used MindManager to organize the input.
I created a basic template to categorize and summarize the input and stories. Using this template, it was very easy to collect the information, and organize the information into summary "themes." You can download the template here: PersonnelReviewTemplate.mmap (16 KB).
I organized each person's input into three top level categories: input from their own department, input from other departments (I included customers in this category), and my own perspectives as a sort of summary.
Under each of these major categories, I created a branch for what they do well, and a branch for areas for improvement. I included stories and meaningful quotes from the feedback I received.
Then, as I wrote the review I had a handy reference catalog on each person. This made it easy to find relevant examples - for example, if I wanted to talk about the person's performance with regard to follow-through and effective communications, I could quickly scan the map and pull out a few nuggets along with an example or a quote for emphasis.
This year, I found that this method made it much easier to write these reviews. I also have a one-page summary of the input that I can keep on hand to refresh my memory as I develop coaching plans for the coming year. I think this approach will be part of my toolkit from now on.