Question: “Our appraisal system requires supervisors to schedule quarterly conferences with their employees, but my boss never does. On my annual performance review, he always lists the dates when our conferences should have happened, then asks me to sign it. I have never been comfortable falsifying this information, but I don't know what to do. Should I just suck it up and sign to keep my boss out of trouble? Or should I refuse and risk becoming the target of retaliation?” — Honest Employee
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Do you have a manager who wants to discipline an employee who just requested a reasonable accommodation under the ADA? Before you approve the discipline, make sure the manager can document past problems or that the discipline is warranted based on a serious rule infraction that has happened since the request.
Employees who take FMLA leave or engage in other protected activities sometimes look for signs their employer is illegally punishing them. They interpret every legitimate request for improvement as retaliation. Fortunately, courts are beginning to reject those frivolous claims.
Sometimes, employees think all it takes to keep from being fired is a well-timed complaint alleging discrimination, harassment or retaliation. That, they reason, will scare an employer into overlooking poor performance or even criminal behavior. Don’t fall for it.
Some employees are under the mistaken impression that merely asking for FMLA leave means they cannot be fired. That’s simply not true. Employees who take FMLA leave don’t have greater rights than other employees.
Florida employees are protected from retaliation for whistle-blowing, but courts have been limiting what they consider to be blowing the whistle. For example, in one recent case, a court concluded that a co-worker’s attempts to report a fellow pharmacy worker’s lax prescription practices was not whistle-blowing.
One of the worst things you can do after you terminate an employee is change the reason for ending the employment relationship. Instead, decide on a defensible rationale—a performance problem or rule violation, for example, or perhaps a business downturn—and document that decision and all the supporting evidence.
Q. We have an employee who does not work very hard and her production is marginal. If we terminate the employee, will she be able to collect unemployment compensation?
Most of the time, employers can win discrimination cases by showing that the same “actor” hired and fired an employee. Courts generally assume that the employer’s stated reason for discharge is the true reason and not an excuse to cover up discrimination. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can be loose with your discharge reasons.
Q. We have an employee who was out six months with a heart condition. He has had performance problems on and off since then. Now we face a morale issue because he constantly talks about his illness, and his co-workers feel he isn’t performing. If we terminate him, what is the best approach?