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Give performance appraisals that count

Isolate examples; focus on the future

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

The best managers actually like performance reviews. They look forward to giving feedback and helping employees devise ways to learn and grow on the job.

The key is to evaluate performance in fair, specific, measurable terms. This increases the odds the worker will respond positively to the input.

Follow these rules to strengthen your appraisals:

Measure what matters. Four common indicators of performance are quantity, quality, cost and time. Choose the right mix and apply consistent standards to each. Example: Don’t emphasize the quantity of output for a few months and then suddenly start insisting on higher quality at all costs.

Hash out solutions. It’s easy to pinpoint whether an employee has attained goals. But it’s more valuable to discuss strategies to help the individual enhance performance to meet clear objectives.

End the evaluation by plotting an action plan with the employee’s involvement. Set weekly or biweekly goals that make it easy to monitor progress. Suggest that the worker keep an activity log to track performance.

Resist the “halo effect.” If you magnify an employee’s best skill, you may disregard other important job requirements. Evaluate every aspect of the job fairly, showing how each element plays a role in defining success.

Prepare examples. Arm yourself with plenty of illustrations to support your assertions, good and bad. List at least three specific points to back up every broad observation you intend to make. If you can’t find examples, you should question your generalization and perhaps throw it out. When you write or talk about performance with the employee, begin with an overview followed by an example.

Say, “Your punctuality needs to improve. In the last three months, you arrived more than 10 minutes late on 14 occasions, or 20 percent of the time.”

Proceed to explore solutions. Don’t belabor or argue over the past; instead, maintain a positive outlook and discuss how the employee can do better.

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