Performance review writing tips

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Most employees dread performance appraisal time, but it’s just as bad for supervisors. When you manage employees, it can be uncomfortable to have to judge them point by point and to share information that is often negative. You can reduce the stress and make your performance appraisals more effective if you keep them balanced and objective and focus on future action.

Preparation

Make a list of the important points you want to cover in the performance appraisal. At this point, write down everything you can think of without censoring yourself. The list is for your own use. It will serve as the basis for writing a complete and objective appraisal.

Objectivity

Go through your list and search for objective examples to back up each point. Do this for both negative and positive points. For example, if one of your points is an employee’s tardiness, tally the exact number of times he has come in late during the appraisal period. If his creativity is another point you want to highlight, cite examples like the effective presentation he created or a unique way in which he solved a problem. Cross points off your list if you cannot come up with an objective example to illustrate them. If the attributes or habits that you’ve listed cannot be backed up by facts, they are probably based on your own personal perceptions rather than the employee’s actual performance.

Balance

Balance the negatives with positives as much as possible. If you hammer the employee with an overwhelmingly negative performance appraisal, she will most likely feel defensive and not be receptive to the information. The purpose of an appraisal is to let the employee know how well she is doing and also how she can improve in the future. She won’t be open to improvement suggestions if she feels buried by the negatives.

Suggestions

Be prepared with specific suggestions on how the employee can improve his performance over the next year. It’s not fair to expect a certain type of performance if the employee doesn’t know the exact factors on which he is being judged. Let him make some suggestions, too. He will feel more inclined to make changes if he participates in creating a plan of action. Don’t just focus on the negatives with your suggestions. Let the employee know what you want him to keep doing and the good things he can expand upon.

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