Writing Performance Reviews • Lesson 1

as a manager or supervisor one of your

most important jobs is to make sure your

employees are doing the right work in

the right way that includes helping

employees improve improve their

performance and when it's appropriate

helping them achieve their career goals

so well written clear accurate detailed

performance reviews have become even

more employee important as the employer

employee relationship in our society

becomes more regulated and there are

even more lawsuits filed so performance

documentation improves the performance

of employees and if it follows the

criteria in this book it actually helps

improve performance so more and more

companies have moved their performance

review systems online and the forums and

ranking systems have become more

complicated but even though their store

stored and filed electronically the

feedback that's essential for

performance improvement is still written

and generated by real people so your

system is unique to your organization

and this course is not designed to teach

you how to use your system but it will

help you understand why it's important

to write performance objectives reviews

appraisals and other performance

documentation that's clear it's

descriptive objective and acceptable and

this is also a transferable skill so

writing clear complete descriptive

performance reviews will help you write

more effective email reports proposals

and other kinds of business documents so

welcome to the right Atwell Academy

write it well has been working in the

field for 35 years with Fortune 500

public utility companies local

government nonprofits and individuals

with the ultimate goal of helping people

communicate more effectively we offer

trainings coaching editorial services on

a wide variety of writing topics

including email performance reviews of

course reports

general business writing and again our

pot we offer a process that you can

follow as well as sentence level

suggestions so that you leave a clear

consistent professional image with

everyone who comes across your writing

our also our focus is to save you time

as you create these documents and to

improve your results for again every

email your resume perhaps or cover

letter report proposal a presentation

anything that's important you can follow

the tips and tools that we offer to help

you get the results that you're looking

for so specifically today we're going to

be talking about writing performance

reviews as well as otherwise known as

appraisals reviews objectives and other

documentation that's clear descriptive

objective and acceptable in today's

workplace as we know professional

athletes rely heavily on feedback and

use it constantly to improve their

performance same idea applies with

performance reviews giving our employees

specific coaching feedback will

ultimately help them achieve their goals

and help us achieve our company's goals

as well but let's remember why this is

important so if you could please take

out a piece of paper maybe it's a

scratch pad next to your desk and draw a

line down the middle creating two lists

on the left you have manager and then

the right you have employee now in each

section write down two or three ways

that writing performance reviews is

helpful for managers on the left and

floor employees on the right

so on your list for manager you might

have listed some things like it's

important for staff to have feedback

about what they did well and of course

what they could improve you might want

them to focus more on the on different

specific tasks especially those that are

working for the organization you might

some point want to promote them so you

want to make a record create a document

of what they were doing well so in case

somebody else reads that document at

some point they have a good sense of

where the opportunities were and where

you had focused as a manager and to

transition again in case there is a

change in management as an employee you

want to know what it was specifically

that you were doing well and you

probably do want to know where you can

improve if you're hoping to grow in the

organization you might want to get some

feedback about what your growth

opportunities are and document some

opportunities for professional

development as well but there's always

some resistance around writing

performance documentation and probably

around the review process in general

there are some challenges inherent in

this in this or in this process what are

some of the challenges some people find

it difficult to find anything at all to

say when it comes to the end of a

performance cycle some people find it

very difficult to keep emotion out of

the review some people can't remember

anything specific what are some other

challenges you might have thought of so

at the end of this course you'll be able

to state the criteria for acceptable

performance documentation you'll be able

to identify documentation that meets or

fails to meet those criteria you'll use

specific clear objective terms to

describe performance and you'll support

your conclusions ratings recommendations

and actions with descriptions and the

examples and you'll be able to write

objectives in standards that meet the

criteria our agenda for our course

starts with writing performance

objectives and standards after that

we'll move into criteria for acceptable

performance documentation our third

lesson focuses on descriptive language

another transferable skill it will help

you write email reports all kinds of

documents using descriptive language our

fourth lesson focuses on explaining and

supporting evaluations and decisions

when you're ready to give someone a

specific ranking within your

organization you want to make sure that

you have all the data to back up that

evaluation and decision and our final

lesson will focus on writing

descriptions that are specific and

complete that include all the

information the reader needs but how do

you collect performance feedback if you

have an entire performance cycle you

want to be collecting information as I

said earlier a performance conversation

never includes any surprise information

so essentially at the end of your cycle

you're collecting all the information

that and putting it in writing

information that you've shared along the

way so how do we collect it ideas they

might include internal or external

client feedback maybe direct or through

a survey peer interviews again direct or

maybe through a 360 degree performance

review process you may have subordinate

interviews also perhaps utilizing a 360

degree process you may have a self

review that includes some feedback you'd

like to include some results achieved

against the against objectives something

that we'll talk about in this course and

direct observation so documentation

includes everything you write down that

concerns the employees performance

including objectives standards

survey results again comments narrative

that form part of a formal performance

evaluation or appraisal you might

include memos you might have taken some


perhaps you even include some data that

you've collected in an app or in a Word

document an Excel document on your

computer or in some sort of online

portal the point isn't how you collect

it the most important point is that you

take time through your performance

period to collect information because

one of the big challenges at the end of

the cycle is sitting down with an

absolutely blank slate

so taking notes along the way and

whatever form feels comfortable to you

will make a big difference in the

quality in the detail and the

description that you're able to include

in a performance review

so as since we're not lawyers here today

we just want to make sure that we've

included some legal parameters as you

know performance documentation must be

free from bias so performance

documentation can help you prove your

side of a wrongful termination lawsuit

evaluations must support or at least not

contradict your reasons for terminating

someone and they should not include

promises or guarantees so again not here

today to provide legal suggestions here

really to provide writing suggestions

that will help you ultimately improve

the quality of the review and thereby

the performance of the person that

you're managing but keep those legal

suggestions in mind as we move through

into our first lesson which is around

writing performance objectives and

standards well let's think about it why

do we need objectives performance

objectives are also called performance

standards performance plans they

describe what an employee will do to

meet specific job requirements clearly

written objectives define expectations

for the employee they also provide a

standard against which the person's

performance can be compared sort of like

a road map we need to know exactly where

we're going so we can be sure that we

arrived at our destination

so there are some specific tips for

writing objectives we're gonna focus on

the results not the activities again

it's the roadmap it's the destination

what kind of results are we looking to

achieve but we're gonna do more than

restate job duties so an objective a

performance objective is doing more

again then restating job activities job

duties we're gonna use the who what when

approach we're gonna talk more about

that we're gonna begin with action verbs

in fact we're gonna use lots of action

verbs in specific action verbs and we're

gonna make sure that our objectives are

smart many of you are familiar with that

acronym already but we're gonna break it

down and show some specific examples of

how to write objectives that are smart

so smart as again many of you know

stands for specific measurable

achievable realistic and time-bound so

we want to make sure that we are writing

smart performance objectives for our

employees in a performance plan so what

we're gonna do with is start with what

the employee is expected to do so it may

be to learn something in order to meet a

job requirement maybe learn how to

change a tire on the service truck

okay so depending on the situation you

must ask yourself some questions every

time you turn a job expectation into a

performance objective so for example

what are the expected actions or

behaviors what exactly is the employee

expected to do meet a specific job

requirement what is it though set up new

client accounts or maybe it's improved

specific job performance and even more

specifically improve your sales

presentations and taking the last one

through demonstrate and ability to take

on new responsibilities how can we be

specific about that be able to prepare

budgets but we're going to take that


further we need to know how an observer

will know that the employee has achieved

these objectives what what sort of

situation will exist if the employee has

met this objective so what standards is

the employee expected to meet for

example how many how well how fast

etcetera in what situation will the

employee be expected to meet the

objective and and what's the time frame

how long does this employee have to meet

the objective so we're always going to

be asking ourselves these questions as

we come up with these expectations with

these objectives so how about starting

with these are are these smart do these

meet the criteria of being smart

objectives become familiar with the

department's internet usage policy

there's a question again is it specific

measurable action-oriented realistic

time-bound let's think about that one

how about the next one

learn the records management system does

it meet those criteria how about be able

to balance client accounts or be able to

prepare audit reports so we're gonna do

have to do some more work I think you'll

agree to make these objectives smart

objectives okay so if you were thinking

no none of them are smart we're on the

same page so if you are gonna start with

this one become familiar with the

department's internet usage policy and

you wanted to make it a smart objective

you may change it to read read the

department's internet usage policy by

May 17th be able to answer 10 out of 10

questions correctly when tested okay so

we're getting closer we're applying some

of the smart criteria I had a client who

who said you know people are gonna take

this right at well class and think that

longer is always better and Wow then he

said usually longer is better now why

don't we write longer

performance documentation both

objectives and reviews because it takes

longer and it's more difficult but

ultimately including more detail in an

objective and in a review document helps

improve performance because the employee

has more information about what they've

done well and what specifically they can

improve let's look at another example

learn the records management system is

this one smart no but you may change it

to include more of the smart criteria

attend a records management class and

practice using the records management

system with the assistance of an

experienced co-worker given a set of

Records two weeks after the class can be

able to store them appropriately without

assistance and with no more than three

errors okay now we have a pretty good

sense of fourth the employee what

specifically we need to do during this

period of time and why again why would

we include measurements I love data and

I love including different kinds of data

in all of the work that I do but

measuring is really important in this

case and let's talk about measurement on

the front end for an objective and how

relevant how helpful it is for knowing

how to evaluate on the back end okay so

read these three objectives maybe using

your imagination can you imagine and a

measurement that would help somebody

said I'd like you to lower costs you

don't have a measure do you can you

imagine a measurement that might apply

here are you thinking about an

percentage or a dollar figure that might

help you achieve that goal if there was

a measurement and expectation

maybe it's improved the expense

reimbursement process what kind of

measure is there how will you know if

you've improved it and if your

improvements are satisfactory or reduce

the office supply bill again there's no


so how do you know if you've reached

your goal so we've tried this right so

lower costs now realize the product

savings of four hundred dollars per

month per restaurant it's gonna be a lot

easier to know what the goal is at least

nobody's saying it's going to be easy to

meet it but at least you have a good you

know exactly what the goal is and you

can work towards it make good decisions

to get to that goal and instead of

improve the expense reimbursement

process you want to reduce you've been

asked to reduce the payment cycle from

ten to six days that's a very specific

and smart goal okay or reduce the office

supply bill again by February please

reduce the monthly office supply bill

from $20,000 to $17,000 it would better

sense now of what kind of decisions

you'll need to make and when you'll need

to make them in order to reach that goal