How to Give an Employee Performance Appraisal

When giving an employee a performance appraisal (which you should do at least once a year), it needs to include feedback to the employee — and that’s not always positive. But a performance appraisal needs to be honest, even when employees might not always want to hear what you have to say.

Whether you’re offering praise or constructive criticism, keep these important points in mind:

  • Prepare your appraisal in writing. Writing out your thoughts and evaluations on paper allows you to keep a record, which may be helpful in any legal dispute.

  • Deliver your feedback in person. Schedule a meeting that’s at least an hour long so that you can deliver and discuss the performance appraisal.

  • Relate the appraisal to your business's goals. Point out how achievements and areas that need improvement are tied to business performance.

  • Engage in a two-way dialogue. Although you’ve drawn up the appraisal, you need to make sure that the meeting is a conversation, not a lecture. Encourage your employees to comment.

  • Offer specific examples and discuss actions, not perceived attitudes. Your employees need to know when they didn’t meet expectations before they can change their ways. So be polite and tactful, but be direct when you’re talking about areas that need improvement.

  • Emphasize opportunities for improvement. Although you may need to cite specific examples of failures, focus on what the person can do to prevent such problems in the future.

  • Don’t say never or always. If you find yourself reprimanding an employee because he or she is never on time or always rude, censor yourself. These words are rarely accurate.

  • Set goals for the coming year. Outline objectives in line with the employee’s career aspirations or spell out the steps necessary to improve in certain areas.

    This is the information staff members can take away from the meeting and focus on over the coming months.

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