Undertaking formal performance appraisals is not an activity most managers relish, but it’s an important part of the job of a manager. You have an opportunity, by reviewing performance effectively, to directly and positively affect the future productivity of your employees. In the below excerpt from Perfect Phrases for Performance Reviews, second edition by Douglas Max and Robert Bacal, discover ways you can make the actual session go smoothly:

  • Put the employee at ease at the start of the session. Do this by acknowledging that these sessions can be a little nerve-wracking, but that the purpose is to help everyone in the work group improve and to gather information on how to help the improvement efforts.
  • Ask the employee what he or she thinks of his or her total performance—not just strong or weak areas. In this way, you get an overall sense of how the employee thinks he or she is doing.
  • Question the employee about what he or she thinks his or her personal strengths are. This chance to describe what he or she does best helps the employee feel positive about the appraisal.
  • Tell the employee what you believe his or her strengths are. This demonstrates that you are paying attention to performance.
  • Describe those areas where you think the employee might improve; use documentation to demonstrate why you are making these observations. Then ask the employee what he or she thinks of this and listen silently to the response. His or her reasons for poor performance or problems on the job might include lack of training, personality conflicts with other employees, misunderstandings about expectations or responsibilities, lack of knowledge about how to use new equipment, and physical obstacles, such as poor lighting or poorly maintained equipment.
  • Assuming you can identify the cause of poor performance, ask the employee what the two of you can do together to take care of it.
  • Set new goals for performance for the next appraisal period.
  • Keep a record of the meeting, including a timetable for performance improvement and what each of you will do to ensure that happens.
  • Be open and honest, yet considerate of the employee’s feelings. The goal is to facilitate improvement for the individual, the team, and the organization.

After the appraisal session, it’s vital to follow up on what you and the employee have agreed on during the session. It indicates that you and the organization are serious about improvement.

  • Mark your calendar to meet with individual employees to review their progress.
  • Set up training as needed to address skill deficiencies.
  • If a personal problem is involved, arrange for the employee to get counseling, if it’s available.
  • If an employee continues to perform poorly, make him or her aware of the consequences (discipline, demotion, or termination).
  • Provide positive feedback when you see improvements in performance.