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Learning tough love:
Avoiding the performance evaluation from hell
(June 24, 2010) Writing and giving performance reviews: 8 do's and don'ts
Anything less than a completely honest performance appraisal will only cheat the employee out of personal development, plus it could set the stage for a discrimination lawsuit.
The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews from Business Management Daily
Here are eight important do's and don'ts:
Managers sometimes allow a single characteristic to influence their ratings of other unrelated factors. Say an employee is willing and capable of taking on any project. That outstanding trait can cause you to ignore a worker's shortcomings. It just feels wrong to give Joyce a 10 on initiative and a meager 5 on everything else. But it may be accurate.
Advice: Eliminate the halo effect by considering each performance element independently.
2. DON'T be overly lenient
Less experienced managers often feel uneasy about criticizing employees' efforts. And seasoned managers may allow emotion to cloud the judgment of their long-term employees.
Leniency hurts company performance because it fails to flag weaknesses. Plus, in court, employees fired for poor performance will point to positive reviews as proof of discrimination.
3. DON'T be overly strict
The opposite problem-overly harsh assessments-is just as demoralizing for workers who make consistent contributions. When you believe that anything an employee does is part of his job description, you leave the employee with no incentive to excel at his job.
Advice: Managers need to define their expectations and identify behavior that falls short of or exceeds those requirements. This should be done through consistent feedback-not just on review day-so that the review process becomes a simple task of matching behavior to established standards.
Identify 6 performance review missteps (and how to avoid committing them), 5 conversation-stoppers ... and 1 total no-no
4. DO go high and low
"Central tendency assessment" occurs when a supervisor gives all workers average ratings. This attitude can depress employee morale and indicate that the supervisor isn't doing his or her job.
Advice: Keep detailed employee logs and record instances of superior and inferior performance.
5. DO focus on pros and cons
Many managers give short shrift to work areas in which the employee excels. They focus almost exclusively on weaknesses and "needs improvement" areas. Give equal time to each aspect of the performance appraisal, regardless of the assessment. Don't nitpick or try to find something wrong where no problems exist.
6. DON'T compare workers
There's no need to discuss how other workers achieve their goals. This allows the discussion to shift away from the core issue: his or her work. Drawing comparisons among workers only builds resentment. Assume that all your employees are capable of superior performance and talk only about ways to enhance their efforts.
Access this 8-point checklist to evaluate those all-important intangible qualities that separate top employees from run-of-the-mill ones...
7. DO stay on track
Because reviews are stressful, it's human nature to want to talk about anything except the subject at hand. But it's important not to let the discussion get sidetracked. Have a written agenda prepared and refer to it frequently. You're there for only one reason. Stick to it.
8. DON'T contradict yourself
The most damaging mistake you can make during a review is to send the employee mixed messages. Know what you want to say, put it on paper and talk it through in advance so that you can catch any errors in your logic. Contradictory messages erode your credibility and do nothing to improve the employee's performance.
Use The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews to educate your managers and supervisors. Access easy-to-implement guides on:
8 paths to effective logging of employee performance, and the 12 check-boxes every performance log must include
3 types of employee rating scales, from simplest to most complex
5 evaluation tools that help rehabilitate problem employees
6-point checklist to prepare for the review session, plus 10 tips to conduct more effective reviews
The free booklet, "10 Secrets to an Effective Performance Review: Examples and tips on employee performance evaluation, writing employee reviews, a sample performance review and employee evaluation form" is also available.
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