Don't SpeakThere are plenty of ways to get an employee appraisal meeting “right,” all of which leave the employee walking out the door feeling driven and excited to get back to work. Good employee appraisal meetings end with each party feeling a renewed sense of respect and appreciation for the other, and great ones end with the employee racing back to her station, determined to make the upcoming year twice as successful as the last.

On the other hand, terrible employee appraisal meetings have the opposite impact. They leave employees feeling drained, belittled, and disconnected. And in the worst case scenario, the employee races back to her desk…so she can get to work polishing her resume. To avoid this scene, watch out for these damaging moves and do whatever you can to remove them from your appraisal process.

  1. Focusing only on recent accomplishments, or worse, recent failures and mistakes. It’s natural to do this, since our memories are wired to focus on the short term. But lambasting a strong employee for a minor mistake simply because the mistake happened a week ago won’t do much to keep turnover down.
  2. Giving feedback that would have really helped, had it been offered six months ago. Don’t wait for appraisal season to give the kind of feedback that can help employees do their jobs, and improve employee performance. How do you ensure feedback doesn’t come too late? Equip managers and employees with standardized tools and processes for sending, receiving, and archiving year-round feedback and what’s more – make sure they use those tools. See emPerform tag
  3. Careless or reckless negativity. Remember that all negativity is toxic. Before you criticize any aspect of an employee’s performance or personality, review your words carefully, and think multiple moves ahead. How do you expect the employee to respond to this? How would you respond if you were in her shoes? Edit all negative words from your evaluation that don’t actually help an employee engage and excel. If your managers need help with this, opt for a performance appraisal software solution that has a built-in comment helper that you can populate with suggested fair comments to use in reviews and meetings.
  4. Offering criticisms that aren’t quantifiable, standardized, measurable, or fair. Telling an employee her sales numbers are below quota is fine. Telling an employee “her attitude needs work” is not. How can you tell the difference between the two? Ask yourself how you would measure improvements – if the measure would be subjective, it’s not a quantifiable criticism.
  5. Going in blind. We have said this before and will say it again – we recommend that no new information be presented in a review meeting. Before any performance review, employees and managers should have completed and read all self-assessments, reviews, and comments so that there are no surprises that creep up during the session. Having both parties fully informed will ensure that the meeting is geared towards improving future performance rather than focusing on events already passed.

Resources: Conducting Painless Performance Evaluation Meetings