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Employee Appraisal Phrases: Job Knowledge and Expertise

Your employees’ knowledge, expertise, and skills are central to success on the job, and they require specific attention in the performance-appraisal process. When appraising your employees in this area, you may be tempted to focus on the amount of information they’ve amassed, and then appraise them solely on this factor. However, such appraisals are more appropriate for computer chips than for human beings.

The most powerful phrases in this area focus not only on employees’ knowledge, expertise, and technical skills, but also on the ways in which employees apply these factors to their work. In light of the key role played by job knowledge, you want to make sure to use knowledgeable phrases when providing feedback in this area.

Ability to apply expertise to the job

Exceptional: Consistently exceeds expectations

  • Handles every technical challenge skillfully, thoroughly, and effectively

  • Has applied her expertise to save the company a substantial amount of money

  • Has used his technical knowledge to generate numerous improvements in processes, procedures, and operations

  • Applied her expertise to the XYZ project and contributed directly to the project’s success

  • Transformed the XYZ project from a failure to a success by applying his expertise

  • Makes highly technical information interesting and understandable

  • Enhances the effectiveness of group meetings by sharing her expertise on issues or questions that arise

Excellent: Frequently exceeds expectations

  • Presents complicated information in understandable chunks

  • Uses expertise appropriate to the situation or problem

  • Creatively applies her expertise

  • Enhances the expertise of her fellow employees

  • Is able to take theoretical information and make practical use of it on the job

  • Has helped find solutions to several problems through his technological insights

  • Provides technical information in user-friendly language

Fully competent: Meets expectations

  • Shows a high degree of intellectual effectiveness

  • Easily absorbs and applies new information

  • Communicates effectively with technical and nontechnical employees

  • Uses her expertise to raise the quality and quantity of work

  • Shows tenacity in solving technical problems

  • Always seeks ways to use his knowledge to make improvements on the job

  • Focuses on causes rather than symptoms

Marginal: Occasionally fails to meet expectations

  • Relies on outdated knowledge

  • Is impatient with nontechnical employees

  • Is more interested in quick answers than the right answer

  • Goes into far too much detail when asked a question

  • Uses so much technical jargon that she is difficult to understand

  • Provides information that is not regarded as credible

  • Starts providing an answer before hearing the entire question

  • Provides too many answers that are either fluff or bluff

Unsatisfactory: Consistently fails to meet expectations

  • Pushes out-of-date solutions on employees, and then becomes defensive if employees raise questions

  • Provides inaccurate technical information

  • Responds to technical questions with an arrogant, degrading, and demeaning style

  • Ignores requests for help

  • Is more interested in his field than in getting the job done

  • Lacks expertise in areas in which it is most needed on the job

  • Provides solutions that have created larger problems

Technical knowledge

Exceptional: Consistently exceeds expectations

  • Keeps his technical skills on the cutting edge

  • Is the go-to person for technical questions

  • Offers comments, suggestions, and answers that are widely respected and carry a great deal of weight

  • Has made important technical contributions to her field

  • Is passionate about continuing to learn

  • Can discuss technical issues with anyone at any level

  • Reads for pleasure in his field

  • Has technical expertise that has contributed directly to the success of the company

  • Is regarded as an expert’s expert

Excellent: Frequently exceeds expectations

  • Has a high degree of intellectual curiosity

  • Is on top of new developments in her field

  • Is truly an expert in his field

  • Maintains state-of-the-art knowledge

  • Is one of the resident experts in the company

  • Knows it all without being a know-it-all

  • Is highly regarded as a technically savvy individual

  • Has great knowledge, but never shows off

Fully competent: Meets expectations

  • Digs in and finds the right answers to complex technical questions

  • Has a solid grasp of the entire field

  • Has thorough knowledge from A to Z

  • Asks questions when stumped

  • Listens carefully instead of jumping in with an answer

  • Takes active steps to build her expertise both on and off the job

  • Is continuously upgrading his knowledge base

  • Always takes advantage of learning situations, whether on or off the job

  • Keeps all licenses and certifications current

Marginal: Occasionally fails to meet expectations

  • Has let her expertise fall behind

  • Gives superficial answers to detailed questions

  • Has no interest in continuing education

  • Builds technical expertise in areas that have little to do with the needs of the company

  • Has in-depth knowledge in too narrow of an area

  • Has impressive credentials, but spends too much time talking about them

  • Relies on information that has since been updated

  • Shows declining interest in his area of expertise

  • Focuses more on yesterday’s knowledge than tomorrow’s challenges

Unsatisfactory: Consistently fails to meet expectations

  • Bases decisions on knowledge that is out of date

  • Shows no interest in upgrading her technical knowledge

  • Turns away from opportunities to build his expertise

  • Lets licenses and certifications lapse

  • Is unfamiliar with the latest developments in her field

  • Gets caught up in the technical details and fails to see the larger issues

  • Becomes argumentative when his facts are questioned

  • Hasn’t taken a class or attended a seminar in years

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