© Copyright Carter
McNamara, MBA, PhD, Authenticity Consulting, LLC.
Adapted from the Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision in Business and
Field Guide to Leadership and Supervision for Nonprofit Staff.
Strongly Suggested Pre-Reading
Sections of This Topic Include
Guidelines to Conduct Employee Performance Appraisals
Why We Hate the Performance Review
Numerous Resources About Conducting Employee Performance
—Additional Perspectives on Conducting Employee Performance
—Some Contrary Perspectives on Employee Performance Reviews
—Perspectives on Conducting Employee 360 Degree Performance
Yearly performance reviews are critical. Organizations are hard-pressed to
find good reasons why they can’t dedicate an hour-long meeting once a year to
ensure the mutual needs of the employee and organization are being met. Performance
reviews help supervisors feel more honest in their relationships with their
subordinates and feel better about themselves in their supervisory roles. Subordinates
are assured clear understanding of what’s expected from them, their own personal
strengths and areas for development and a solid sense of their relationship
with their supervisor. Avoiding performance issues ultimately decreases morale,
decreases the credibility of management, decreases the organization’s overall effectiveness
and wastes more of management’s time doing what isn’t being done properly. Conduct
the following activities.
1. Design a legally valid performance review process
Patricia King, in her book, Performance Planning and Appraisal, states
that the law requires that performance appraisals be: job-related and valid;
based on a thorough analysis of the job; standardized for all employees; not
biased against any race, color, sex, religion, or nationality; and performed
by people who have adequate knowledge of the person or job. Be sure to build
in the process, a route for recourse if an employee feels he or she has been
dealt with unfairly in an appraisal process, e.g., that the employee can go
to his or her supervisor’s supervisor. The process should be clearly described
in a personnel policy.
2. Design a standard form for performance appraisals
Include the name of the employee, the date the performance form was completed,
dates specifying the time interval over which the employee is being evaluated,
performance dimensions (include responsibilities from the job description, any
assigned goals from the strategic plan, along with needed skills, such as communication,
administration, etc.), a rating system (e.g., poor, average, good, excellent),
space for commentary for each dimension, a final section for overall commentary,
a final section for action plans to address improvements and lines for signatures
of the supervisor and employee. Signatures may specify that the employee
accepts the appraisal or has seen it, depending on the wording on the form.
3. Schedule the first performance review for six months after the employee
Schedule another six months later, and then every year on the employee’s anniversary
4. Initiate the performance review process and upcoming meeting
Tell the employee that you’re initiating a scheduled performance review. Remind
them of what’s involved in the process. Schedule a meeting about two weeks out.
5. Have the employee suggest any updates to the job description and provide
written input to the appraisal
Have them record their input concurrent to your recording theirs. Have
them record their input on their own sheets (their feedback will be combined
on the official form later on in the process). You and the employee can exchange
your written feedback in the upcoming review meeting. (Note that by
now, employees should have received the job descriptions and goals well in advance
of the review, i.e., a year before. The employee should also be familiar with
the performance appraisal procedure and form.)
6. Document your input — reference the job description and performance
Be sure you are familiar with the job requirements and have sufficient contact
with the employee to be making valid judgments. Don’t comment on the employee’s
race, sex, religion, nationality, handicap, or veteran status. Record major
accomplishments exhibited strengths and weaknesses according to the dimensions
on the appraisal form, and suggest actions and training or development to improve
performance. Use examples of behaviors wherever you can in the appraisal to
help avoid counting on hearsay. Always address behaviors, not characteristics
of personalities. The best way to follow this guideline is to consider what
you saw with your eyes. Be sure to address only the behaviors of that employee,
rather than the behaviors of other employees.
7. Hold the performance appraisal meeting
State the meeting’s goals of exchanging feedback and coming to action plans,
where necessary. In the meeting, let the employee speak first and give their
input. Respond with your own input. Then discuss areas where you disagree. Attempt
to avoid defensiveness; admitting how you feel at the present time, helps a
great deal. Discuss behaviors, not personalities. Avoid final terms such as
“always,” “never,” etc. Encourage participation and be supportive.
Come to terms on actions, where possible. Try to end the meeting on a positive
8. Update and finalize the performance appraisal form
Add agreed-to commentary onto the form. Note that if the employee wants to
attach written input to the final form, he or she should be able to do so.
The supervisor signs the form and asks the employee to sign it. The form and
its action plans are reviewed every few months, usually during one-on-one meetings
with the employee.
9. Nothing should be surprising to the employee during the appraisal meeting
Any performance issues should have been addressed as soon as those issues occurred.
So nothing should be a surprise to the employee later on in the actual performance
appraisal meeting. Surprises will appear to the employee as if the supervisor
has not been doing his/her job and/or that the supervisor is not being fair.
It is OK to mention the issues in the meeting, but the employee should have
heard about them before.
© Copyright Sheri Mazurek
Most employees in companies today are all too familiar with the concept of
performance review. Just the mention of this often dreaded occurrence of
discussion with one’s supervisor where they get to critique every move
you’ve made during the year while you sit ideally by is sure to send negative
feelings throughout the minds of employees everywhere. The performance
review generally has a similar effect on managers and supervisors as well. So
why is this performance review so dreaded and loathed by many? A few of the
reasons are listed below.
Employees – Why They Hate the Performance Review Process
They have no control over the situation. Managers get to provide ratings and
comments on multiple areas of performance that are most often subjective in
nature. If an employee disagrees, they might get a small “employee comments”
area to provide their rebuttal all the while knowing that if they push too much
the person controlling their future still has control.
Review sheets are completed before the actual discussion occurs. Therefore
bringing up comments has little effect on the actual rating which is most often
tied to their annual increase which is usually only a few cents different from
the person with the next highest or lowest rating.
Employees are often forced to write a self-evaluation prior to the meeting
as well. Unfortunately, these usually only serve as an annoyance to employees because
the majority of the time it is ignored by the supervisor anyway.
Managers – Why They Hate the Performance Review Process
Managers often dread the discussion of the employee performance review assuming
the discussion will turn into a battle with the manager left to convince the
employee that their ratings are accurate. Managers usually assume employees
think they perform better than they actually do.
Managers are busy with tasks and goals of their own. Taking the time to thoroughly
review a whole year’s worth of performance is time-consuming. They often
rush through the forms because the HR department has a deadline they are struggling
The forms are too complicated, long, short, or don’t cover what is really
important to success in this department.
So, What’s the Answer to Overcoming Negativity Around the Performance
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Set clear expectations. Provide them on the first day of employment.
- Provide feedback all year. Create a culture where performance discussions
are a regular part of the workday day and review meetings are held at frequent
intervals such as monthly.
- Ask first, tell later. Begin a performance discussion by asking the employee
to rate their performance. Have them provide examples of where they have met
and exceeded the expectations.
- Do not complete the form until you have the discussions.
Do monitor performance all year and have examples ready to discuss.
- Guarantee no surprises at the annual meeting. If you are waiting for an annual
meeting to discuss performance, you lose your chance to be effective.
10 Key Tips for Effective Employee Performance Reviews
from Among Publicly Available Assessments
How to Evaluate and Appraise employee performance (also with free
Performance Appraisal Solution
for performance appraisal discussions – Part I
performance appraisal discussions – Part II
performance appraisal discussions – Part III
Performance Appraisals: A Quick Guide For Managers
Beyond Constructive Criticism–Methods to Evaluating Performance
Performance Appraisals: Are You Playing Games?
Appraisal Lessons from 13 Years in the Trenches
Evaluation Program Sample
The case for Scrapping Performance Appraisals
Once You Scrap
360 Degree Feedback Survey Software Deployment Tips & Resources:
How to Guide
Bouncing Back from a Negative 360-Degree Review
– Your Guide to 360 Information and Resources
– Your Guide to 360 Information and Resources
Learn More in the Library’s Blogs Related to Employee Performance Appraisals
In addition to the articles on this current page, see the following blogs which
have posts related to Employee Performance Appraisals. Scan down the blog’s
page to see various posts. Also, see the section “Recent Blog Posts”
in the sidebar of the blog or click on “next” near the bottom of a
post in the blog.
For the Category of Supervision:
To round out your knowledge of this Library topic, you may want to review some related topics, available from the link below. Each of the related topics includes free, online resources.
Also, scan the Recommended Books listed below. They have been selected for their relevance and highly practical nature.