Employee Performance Review - An Easy How-To-Guide

most employees and managers dread the

performance appraisal process it is just

simply not people's favorite time of

year but it doesn't have to be that way

I'm Sheri Harley I lead candid culture

we're training and education firm

helping organizations all over the world

help their employees be more candid at

work and feel more comfortable doing so

we're going to spend about 15 minutes

together and we're just going to talk

about the performance appraisal process

and have it be simple and clear and not


in fact almost painless so first is this

number one is to spend a little bit of

time crafting and appraisal for your

employees that is both detailed and


I'm not saying spend a ton of time but

invest enough that your employees feel

that you cared enough to spend a little

bit of time that will go a long way to

helping your relationship be even

stronger than it is now

I suggest that both employees and

managers keep a me file so employee you

should keep a file for themselves where

throughout the year they collect good

feedback projects wins anything that

they're proud of emails they received

and they should just throw it in a

folder and at the end of the year the

employee should send that to you the

manager and you can use that to help

craft their appraisal you do not follow

your employees around Lisa I'm hoping

and assuming you don't if you follow

your employees every day everywhere they

go you probably need more to do and I

doubt that that's true so you're not

there all the time

so you're going to need data right

you're going to have your data but you

also need their data and other people's

data so number one ask your employees to

keep a me file and collect their data on

their performance at the end of the year

you're also going to want to reach out

to other people throughout the

organization call your employees

internal customers

you can call the people they service

internally you can call vendors you can

call customers anyone that people work

with directly closely and regularly and

just ask how has John Smith perform this

year what did you get that you needed

what did you not get what did we do well

and what could we do better you want to

get something called a 360 point of view

when you get your employees customers

colleagues business partners vendors

point of view you get a complete picture

of their performance which is way more

accurate than just your impressions

because you're not there all the time

once you have your feedback you have

your employees feedback and you have a

casual 360 by calling around you're

ready to write the appraisal you want to

be specific and clear and not

over-the-top with data people cannot get

better at 17 things they can't focus on

more than let's say 2 or 3 so think

about you like let's say it's January

1st and you are setting your New Year's

resolutions and you're feeling

optimistic so you're going to lose 30

pounds and you're going to go to grad

school part-time you're going to buy a

new house you're going to go on vacation

twice you're going to read five classics

and you're going to get promoted at work

no you're not there's no one who can do

all of that in one year and when the bar

is set so high people peter out quickly

and they do nothing and they get

discouraged performance appraisals are

actually really similar what are the

three things that your employees did

most and the best this year that are the

most important that's what you want to

focus on in your appraisal so what three

things do your employees need to

replicate that they did well that you

want them to keep doing that is most

important based on their goals and

what's important to the organization

next year focus on those three things

then what are three things the employee

did that he or she really should do

differently either what area could he or

she grow or develop meaning they've

never done that it's a skill that they

want to get or take on something they

want to learn that's new or something

that really needs to get corrected or

fixed three things not more now I'm not

saying you can't address more than three

things in the appraisal but I want you

to consider that people can only focus

on a couple things at a time if you want

your employees to be efficient effective

get better keep doing the things they do

well give them little things to focus on

all the time you can always meet again

next month or in 90 days or six months

and add more the other thing is this I'm

going to be honest I worked in corporate

America for twelve years before I

started my business and I was a driven

type-a successful careerist and I did

well and still I never had a performance

appraisal where I didn't want to quit

the next day it can be a very

discouraging process and more so I think

in please even if they hear ten good

things that they did well and one thing

that was negative we all know that we

can home thinking about the negative so

you want a process for your employees

that they can really take in what you're

saying and they feel encouraged and more

engaged not discouraged I would suggest

to do that that you really help people

focus you point out the positive and you

point out the negative which is often

called constructive which is just a nice

word for negative but people do need

both but keep it simple and keep it

pretty sick synced and short

the other thing is this the best

feedback is specific and I have to be

candid most feedback I see is actually


I call it Captain Crunch it's like

popped children's breakfast cereal with

milk it's like moving air around the

room with a little noise mixed in so if

you tell your employees they're doing

well they had a great year they need to

be more assertive or more aggressive

they need to work harder then you can be

more detail-oriented they need to be

more complete they need to be more

accurate they need to be more timely

none of that is actually feedback that

is buff right it's vague I call it an

attribute like a descriptor blond hair

short tall those are descriptions

they're not actually feedback feedback

is a description plus a verb meaning

what did the person do the more specific

the feedback the more helpful it is so

when I know exactly what I did well I

can replicate it when I know exactly

what didn't go well I can change it but

when I'm not sure what you're talking

about I don't know what to do and all I

do is get really really defensive human

beings are going to get defensive when

they get feedback regardless of how well

it was delivered and how nice and how

softly they will get less defensive when

it's specific when I can see like almost

like on a DVD or a video when I can see

the event go by when you describe it to

me so clearly that I can remember it

like oh yeah you're right I was late

that day I remember that I did turn that

in late I did take a vacation day on the

busiest day of the year I did wear

something a little crazy in front of a


I can remember it I'm not going to like

hearing it but I'm going to be able to

absorb it and I will get less defensive

so you can't prevent your employees from

being defensive when they get negative

feedback we all get defensive I call

that human but you can reduce their

defensive nough stream lis specific to


specific you're again going to have to

watch your employees performance and

you're going to have to get feedback

both from them and from other people and

that can be a little time-consuming I'm

going to recommend you do that

throughout the year like I said so

throughout the year just call your

customers your internal customers and

ask for feedback on your employees and

talk about what you're getting

throughout the year that's the ideal

case the performance review process is

called review because it should be the

year in review it is not a preview it is

not a trailer so ideally when you meet

with your employees you should be

talking about things you've already

talked about so a good appraisal sounds

something like this

thanks for coming in today we're going

to briefly review last year the year

that's ending because we've had a lot of

conversations about your performance

you know what's working and what's not

so we're going to wrap that up we're

going to review it and then we're going

to plan for next year in a really solid

appraisal that's empowering and it's

firing even you're going to focus a

little bit on the past and a lot about

the future now you can do that if you've

been meeting with your people regularly

and giving feedback and a lot of us have

not let's just admit it we are busy we

are human and we have our own jobs to do

so sometimes we don't get to give

feedback as often as frequently and as

quickly as we would like so you're going

to maybe be in the position where you're

going to give feedback that's not a

review fact the employee is going to be

surprised and maybe a little frustrated

because maybe it happened in January and

you're addressing it in July or August

that breaks trust so be careful how you

do it you may want to say something like

I've got some feedback for you I wish

I'd given it to you sooner next year

we're going to meet more regularly and

I'm going to give you more regular

feedback but for now I think it's

important that you have this information

you can do that but know that employees

get a little suspicious like why didn't

you tell me six months ago and they can

break trust and they feel a little

betrayed so be careful what you choose

to address if a behavior performance has

been happening over time and you haven't

addressed it and it's frustrating to you

you may want to just consider not

addressing it during the appraisal if

it's really a problem they're going to

do it again

no that sounds a little crazy I call

that a missed opportunity if it's an

issue they're going to do it again just

watch for it not like a stalker but just

pay attention when it happened to

address it so so far we have gather

feedback throughout the year if you can

gather feedback from the employee

themselves and also from their internal

or external customers make some notes be

extremely specific more specific the

more actionable the more helpful the

more trust you'll build because

specificity builds authenticity and

trust vague does not you're not going to

write captain crunch you're going to

write behaviors so rather than be more

timely you could say something like turn

everything in when it's due or before

rather than produce more accurate work

you could say check your work be sure to

spell check have somebody proofread and

make sure that things are error-free

before you turn them in if you want to

say to someone they have a bad attitude

that's going to create a lot of

sensitivity and a lot of defense in this

so you could say something like you

typically look unhappy at work your

founding come throw stuff around you're

a sire and it's creating an atmosphere

in the office that's a little bit

negative my recommendation is if you're

upset at work just take it outside and

take a walk around the block more

specific less defensive more helpful

now the employees should also

participate in their appraisal so I'm

going to suggest you do something called

a self appraisal a self appraisal is a

time for the employee to sit down think

about his or her year and performance

and take some notes they should write

things like what went well what didn't

go well if they could do something over

again this year what would they do what

were they disappointed with but get

employees thinking about their year

because the more they think about it the

more accountability they're going to

take they're in charge of their

performance their success in their

career not you and that takes some of

the weight off you also I don't like to

be surprised so if I'm going to sit down

and have an appraisal and my employee

thinks they're a rock star and I think

we should maybe possibly move them along

and get rid of them that is not going to

be a fun conversation I don't want to be

surprised by that so I have their self

appraisal asking them what they think

their rating should be with comments

that are specific I know what I'm

walking into

it also allows me to embed some of the

employees self feedback into my

appraisal of them which feels more fair

to them you also after you capture your

feedback you want to schedule a good

amount of time to meet with your

employee minimum of 30 minutes maybe an

hour schedule a time that's convenient

for both of you not on a Friday or not

right before a holiday or vacation

because people do get defensive with

feedback and they need to be able to go

home think about it process come back

and ask questions so schedule your

appraisals may be middle of the week an

hour when both of you have time

now the biggest mistake I see in

delivering an appraisal is the manager

does all the talking and the employee

does all the listening and then goes

home and complains to their cat about

how unfair their appraisal was I

recommend that you have a dialogue so

here's my suggestion deal with one topic

at a time after you give the feedback on

one subject stop talking and ask the

employees point-of-view hey how does

that land with you what do you think and

let the person talk and then you go on

to the next topic every conversations

and negotiation the more your employee

participates the better the conversation

will go it will feel more fair and you

will learn something about the employee

so one topic discuss another topic

discuss next topic discuss so I often

sit and I observe my my clients give

appraisals often when they need help or

they're a little nervous and what I see

is the manner goes talk talk talk talk

talk and they often read the appraisal

your employee can read don't read them

the appraisal it's very impersonal it's

hard not to if it's in front of you

right you're going to pick it up and

you're going to read it so maybe send

the appraisal to the employee in advance

let him or her read it and then just

talk through it but don't read it they

know how to read and it's not personal

here's the last part this may sound a

little funny but I really believe this

the way you manage the appraisal process

can build and strengthen your

relationship can actually build rapport

when you spend time drafting a really

complete and thorough appraisal and a

fair appraisal that's balanced just as

many positives as negatives and not too

many of either and you spend the time to

deliver it and you're thoughtful in your

delivery you have an exchange and a

dialogue you actually build your

relationship and employees want to work

for people who have their back the more

time you spend in the more thorough and

real you are with them and authentic the

more you build your relationship so in

tight economies we can't always promote

people or rotate people we can't give

people more money but we can be someone

who's great to work for it's always hard

to get negative feedback but the truth

is we want it because without it we

don't learn and we don't grow so I'm

going to encourage you to be candid and

have some courage powerful managers have

courage and they're candid and employees

really want to hear what you have to say

a good appraisal focuses on the positive

and the constructive we tend to kind of

wait things on the constructive because

we expect things to go well again I'm

going to suggest that you're balanced

give people time after the appraisal to

think about it and invite them to come

back to you with questions people need

to go home and have their process I hope

this has been useful for you good luck

this year with your appraisals