Performance Reviews

For most managers, conducting effective performance reviews is the most daunting part of their job. Don’t look on it with dread! Make your performance appraisals work for you, not against you with these tools: performance review examples, tips on writing employee reviews, sample performance reviews and employee evaluation forms.
So, your tasked with assessing employee performance and writing performance reviews. Where do you get started?

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Q. Are annual performance appraisals required for our part-time employees?  — Pamela, West Virginia
Ah, the “halo effect”—the practice of inflating an employee’s annual review to increase morale and avoid the unpleasantness of pointing out underperformers’ weaknesses. Too bad the halo strategy sparks legal risks.
In order for a company to succeed as a whole, its managers need to help their individual employees succeed by effectively managing their performance. All managers can benefit from these reminders during reviews.
If you dread administering performance reviews, you may sugarcoat your appraisals by telling employees they’re doing “great” when they need to improve. Dishing out undeserved praise can backfire. By giving honest, thorough appraisals, you can avoid these traps.
If a former employee sues after being fired for poor performance, his attorney will almost certainly ask to look at past performance appraisals. Any that indicate the employee had previously been doing a good or excellent job may be used against you as proof the employee was fired for illegal reasons.

Some managers tend to evaluate team members based on their most recent positive or negative encounter. This hap­pens most often when a manager has no record of an employee’s performance over the past months or year. It’s not a good way to conduct a review, and it’s not fair to the employee. An increasingly popular and easily imple­mented solution is to create an employee performance log.

When it comes time to writing performance evaluations, it’s best to stay away from broad generalizations about the employee’s work. Instead, provide concrete examples that support your stated performance rankings. Follow these guidelines for writing evaluations.

Q. The mother of a minor employee (age 16) has asked to attend her child’s performance evaluation meeting. Do I have to legally allow the parent to sit in on this session?

If you give somebody a bad grade without explanation, that’s not acceptable, says Laura Yecies, CEO of online storage service SugarSync. Yecies fights the impulse by reading every performance review—not so much to see if she agrees with the assessment but to check whether the manager is being thoughtful.

Most HR professionals assume that a warning letter isn’t an adverse employment action and there­­fore can’t be the basis for a lawsuit. And that’s largely true. But if the warning letter also mentions restrictions on how well the employee will be rated at evaluation time, there may be trouble.

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