How can a manager avoid sending ‘mixed messages’ in Performance Appraisals?

In addition to having a clear understanding of each rating level so that the rating matches the employee’s results, it is also important to word supporting comments carefully so that your words match the rating. Employees commonly complain that they get mixed messages. For example, the numerical rating is ‘Performing,’ but the manager’s comments suggest ‘Leading.’ 

To help ensure that words match ratings, review the following descriptions of the Leading, Performing, and Developing rating categories. Then review the examples of words to use for each of those ratings.

The Leading or Excels rating is typically associated with someone whose results go far beyond defined expectations with organization-wide bottom-line impacts—results that are visible outside of their own organization. Leading wording must show how the individual, who is a recognized leader—locally and organization-wide, models the Core Values and goes beyond job description. This individual’s results go beyond their own responsibilities; they help ensure the success of the team, others on the team, the region, and the entire organization.

The Performing or Meets rating is used when the individual brings value to the team by regularly meeting set objectives and occasionally exceeding those objectives.  The Performing employee contributes solidly to the success of the team.

The Developing or Does Not Meet rating is used for results that do not consistently meet expectations.

What words should be used to match the Leading, Performing, and Developing ratings?

Words to describe Leading results include the following:  made exceptional contributions including ___, surpassed ___, substantially exceeded expectations for the full review period by ___, met the challenge of ___, demonstrated creativity/innovation/high initiative/a high level of professional maturity by ___,  excelled at, led, played an instrumental/vital role as ___, influenced ___,  proactively __, set standard for ___, delivered __ ahead of the __ deadline so that __, received Leadership Award for ___, Award Winner for ___, won trip to __ for, seized opportunity to, considered a resource for, ranked __ for [result area].

Words to describe Performing results include the following:  consistently, routinely, thoroughly, timely and professionally, effectively, fully, reliably, solid performance, supported or contributed to ___ by [action], coached, consistently met, actively demonstrated ability to ___, worked well with partners to ___, responded to need to ___, built good relationships with ___, accurately reported __.

Words to describe Developing results include the following:  began to __ on a more consistent basis, showed improvement in __ by __, incorporated manager’s coaching on ___ to improve __, was placed on an Action Plan on [date] (see attached).  Results toward that Plan include: ___, delivered ____% of ___ by [date] vs. expectation of  __% by [date], We addressed the Company requirement for [name] to _______, Opportunities exist for [name] to demonstrate increased ___,To help bring [his/her] performance to an acceptable level, [name] has agreed to complete the following Actions: ___.


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