Blog Archives

What are some tips for writing balanced Performance Appraisal comments?

As you review your Performance Appraisal comments, ensure that:

  1. Performance from the entire review period has been given equal weight. To prove that you have done so, from your documentation, select examples that typify the employee’s results and desired behaviors. In your comments, mention timeframes, such as ‘Since first quarter, Mark has steadily improved ABC accuracy each month, moving from 88% in March, to 90% in April, to 92% in May.’  Or, ‘During June, July, and August, Sherrie was Team Leader for ABC Accuracy.’ Read more ›

How can a manager prevent Haloes, Horns, and other performance rating pitfalls?

In Performance Appraisals, what are some ways to prevent Haloes (rating an employee higher than results merit), Horns (rating an employee lower that results merit), and other rating pitfalls such as stereotyping, applying subjective standards, and rating all employees the same? The following approaches may be helpful:

  • Develop a very clear definition for each performance factor and its supporting behaviors. Read more ›

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. Read more ›


What is your Human Resources/Legal Department’s definition of a quality Performance Appraisal?

Does your team’s Performance Appraisal process meet the following expectations?

  • A quality Performance Appraisal for the Employee.
  • Specific proof of ratings with special focus on Leading (does the Performance Appraisal support a promotion?) and Developing (does the Performance Appraisal support re-assignment or separation?)
  • Consistency:  There are no great leaps in ratings from one performance period to the next without solid proof. Read more ›

What is an employee’s definition of a quality Performance Appraisal?

Does your team’s Performance Appraisal process meet the following expectations?

  • A sense of direction and control:  Clearly stated objectives, appropriate training, and control over the delivery of expected results.
  • An understanding of and involvement in the process:  The opportunity to provide input into the Performance Agreement, Appraisal and Development Plan.
  • Answers to the questions:  How am I doing? How can I improve/be even more effective? Read more ›

PERFORMANCE REVIEW—5 FAQ’s for Documenting Performance

1.  Why is thorough, contemporaneous documentation so important in a Performance Appraisal process?

  • To support promotions or other advancement.
  • To support adverse actions such as separation from the position or the organization.
  • To reduce rating inconsistencies.

2.  How much should a manager document in a Performance Appraisal process?

  • Only those positive or negative aspects of performance that significantly contribute to or get in the way of the work effort.
  • Enough to demonstrate to the employee, your Management Team, and Human Resources that your team’s focus is aligned with the organization’s Vision and goals.
  • Enough to support any necessary corrective action for Human Resources or a third-party reader. Read more ›

What are the qualities of effective Performance Agreements?

Well-written, SMART objectives and clearly defined Values are the basis of effective Performance Agreements.

Employee Performance Agreements are working tools used to (1) define and document expectations for performance objectives and Values, (2) guide completion of specific goals in conjunction with set timeframes, (3) provide the ability to measure results of and set clear direction for individual job roles. Refer to, use, and update Performance Agreements ongoing throughout the year to monitor and guide performance.

 Performance Agreements should:

  • Be developed by every manager or supervisor in conjunction with each direct report at the beginning of the calendar year (or of the performance review period) or whenever a new employee joins the work group.
  • Clearly state specific details focusing on both financial and non-financial goals. Read more ›

4 FAQ’s about Writing Performance Objectives

1.     How do I write a performance objective that is at the appropriate level of difficulty—challenging enough without being too difficult to obtain?

Refer to your organization’s job description for the employee’s position, and ensure the performance objective is anchored at the appropriate work level. For example, for an entry-level employee, you can make it clear that the employee is expected to accomplish the performance objective with guidance. In contrast, for a senior-level employee, a performance objective would entail a high degree of independent judgment. For an expert-level employee, the objective should involve highly complex work, coordination across work groups, and/or producing results with far-reaching impact.

Meet with your Management Team to discuss what are appropriate expectations for employees in similar types of jobs and within certain pay or band levels. As appropriate, set common performance objectives for individuals who are doing the same work.

2.     How do I write performance objectives that are specific and measurable when the job is not easily quantified? Read more ›


Effective Performance Appraisals Rest on SMART Performance Objectives

Effective Performance Appraisals and the success of the whole Performance Appraisal Process rest on well-written performance objectives and Performance Agreements—employees’ blueprints for success.

Some managers cascade performance objectives from their next level managers to their teams, determining which team member(s) will be responsible for which portion of each team objective. Other managers, including those whose teams are on special assignments, write the objectives with their teams. And top management-level employees may write their own objectives with input from their organization’s Board of Directors.

How does a manager draft SMART Performance Objectives? Read more ›