Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies book cover

Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies

By: Ken Lloyd Published: 09-08-2009

The tools you need to enrich the performance-appraisal experience as you streamline the process

Whether you're a manger looking to implement employee appraisals for the first time, concerned with improving the quality and effectiveness of the appraisal process, or simply trying to save time and mental anguish Performance Appraisals & Phrases For Dummies provides the tools you need to save time and energy while presenting fair and accurate evaluations that foster employee growth.

This convenient, portable package includes a full-length appraisal phrasebook featuring over 3,200 spot-on phrases and plenty of quick-hitting expert tips on making the most out of the process. You'll also receive online access to writable, customizable sample evaluation forms other timesaving resources.

  • Includes more than 3,200 phrases for clear, and helpful evaluations
  • Helps make evaluations faster, more effective, and far less stressful
  • Offers far more advice and coaching than other performance appraisal books
  • Serves as an ideal guide for managers new to the appraisal process

With expert advice from Ken Lloyd, a nationally recognized consultant and author, Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies makes the entire process easier, faster, and more productive for you and your employees.

Articles From Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies

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44 results
Performance Appraisals and Phrases For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-01-2022

Workplace performance appraisals and reviews can often be challenging for managers and supervisors. These checklists and tips help guide you through preparing for performance evaluations, conducting employee reviews, avoiding common appraisal mistakes and pitfalls, and following up with employees after the appraisal is complete.

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How to Conduct a Performance Appraisal in the Workplace

Article / Updated 04-13-2017

As you conduct performance appraisal sessions as a manager or supervisor, use the following guidelines to help you increase the likelihood of having a positive and productive exchange with your employees. Open on an upbeat note. Start the discussion with friendly greetings — this sets the tone for the rest of the session. Lay out the framework. Let employees know the topics you plan to cover, as well as the order in which you plan to cover them. Ask for questions. This will raise employees’ comfort level and eliminate nagging issues that could distract them. Focus on performance. Keep your feedback focused on your employees’ performance, especially in terms of meeting objectives, achieving results, handling critical incidents, and developing competencies. Discuss the evaluations. Walk through the evaluations with your employees and provide them with specific information regarding the rationale behind your ratings. If you use self-evaluations, discuss the points where you and your employees agree and disagree. Listen actively. Rephrase and summarize what your employees say, to make sure you truly understand them. Clarify the overall ratings. Discuss the overall ratings with your employees and provide specific information regarding the criteria that you used to determine them. End the sessions positively. Summarize the discussion, ask for final questions, set follow-up dates for goal setting, have the employees sign hard copies of the evaluations, and end with positive expectations.

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Preparing to Appraise Job Performance

Article / Updated 04-13-2017

When conducting performance appraisals in the workplace, make sure that you are well prepared to assess your employees’ performance and deliver your evaluation. Use this checklist to help you provide meaningful, motivational, and lasting feedback for your employees. See yourself as a leader. If you approach the appraisal process as your employees’ buddy, you’ll have difficulty being objective — and they’ll have difficulty accepting your feedback. Set positive expectations. If you expect performance appraisals to go smoothly, effectively, and productively, it’s far more likely that they will. Spend time with your employees. The more familiar you are with your employees and their performance, the more accurate and acceptable your feedback will be. Know the system. Look over your company’s performance appraisal system and be sure you know exactly how it works. Back-time the process. Set the dates of the appraisal sessions first, and then work backward to establish the benchmark actions that you need to complete before meeting with the employees. Gather and review all the relevant data. Look through your notes and supplement them with your employees’ job descriptions, last year’s appraisal, the objectives that you established with your employees, each employee’s file, and your employees’ self-evaluations and 360-degree feedback forms (if you use them). Complete the evaluation forms. Start with written comments and phrases, and then select numerical ratings that fit what you’ve written. Review the recommended raises, if any, and then finalize the evaluations. Plan the agenda for the meeting. Be sure to provide extra time at the end to complete the discussions and answer all questions.

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Effective Words to Use in a Workplace Performance Appraisal

Article / Updated 04-12-2017

As you appraise an employee’s performance, you can pack a powerful punch if you use certain key words. Here are the most effective words you can use in a variety of job performance appraisal categories: Quality and quantity of work: accuracy, thoroughness, productivity, and goal attainment Communication and interpersonal skills: teamwork, cooperation, listening, persuasion, and empathy Planning, administration, and organization: goal setting, prioritizing, and profit orientation Leadership: accessibility, responsiveness, decisiveness, collaboration, and delegating Job knowledge and expertise: knowledge base, training, mentoring, modeling, and researching Attitude: dedication, loyalty, reliability, flexibility, initiative, energy, and volunteering Ethics: diversity, sustainability, honesty, integrity, fairness, and professionalism Creative thinking: innovation, receptiveness, problem solving, and originality Self-development and growth: learning, education, advancement, skill building, and career planning

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How to Follow Up after a Job Performance Appraisal Session

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

After you’ve conducted and completed performance appraisal or evaluation sessions with your employees, it’s time to shift your focus from their past performance to their future performance. These tips will help you to manage your employees more effectively and ensure that they meet future performance goals. Set performance goals with each employee. These goals focus on the employee’s specific performance on the job, such as his productivity, output, results, competencies, and behaviors. Set developmental goals with each employee. These goals focus on building the employee’s expertise, skills, and abilities. The idea is to make strengths even stronger, as well as to develop the areas in which the employee’s knowledge and skills are deficient. Create real goals. Real goals are specific, achievable, prioritized, measurable, supported by action plans, aligned with the company, linked to your goals, and accepted by you and your employees. Wander around. Your effectiveness in the performance appraisal process, as well as your effectiveness as a manager, will be greatly enhanced if you spend time working directly with your employees, observing their performance, and maintaining a high degree of contact and communication with them throughout the evaluation period. Be a coach. Take the time to regularly recognize your employees when they’re performing particularly well, and to provide them with formal and informal coaching, guidance, feedback, direction, and follow-up not only to further build their strengths, but also to upgrade their performance in areas where it has fallen short. Remember your role. You are your employees’ central role model, and that makes you their most compelling trainer.

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Types of Employee-Performance Rating Systems

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Several performance appraisal systems exist, from classic to cutting-edge. Some of these employee-evaluation systems work better than others, and there is some overlap among the various systems. The most successful systems are tailored to the companies in which they’re used. No matter what performance appraisal approach your company uses, there's one element that can make any of them work better, and that element is you. Writing essays As the name implies, this approach consists of little more than a manager’s written overall opinion of each employee’s performance. Today’s essays should be short, focused, and performance-related, and they should be provided along with your rating or ranking of your employees. At the heart of these mini-essays are the specific, targeted, job-related phrases that are among the most powerful tools for performance appraisal and improvement. Using graphic rating scales Graphic rating scales are among the most common tools in the performance appraisal process. They typically contain a list of the following, which employees demonstrate on the job: Traits and characteristics Competencies Actions and behaviors Results The forms usually include a numerical scale, often from 1 to 5, indicating whether the employee is outstanding, excellent, competent, marginal, or unsatisfactory in each described area. Some of these forms also include a section where you can write comments and phrases to further describe the employee’s performance. Choosing checklists Another basic evaluation method relies on checklists, the most common of which is a broad listing of work-related behaviors, characteristics, and outcomes. With this list in hand, you place a checkmark indicating “yes” or “no” next to any of the descriptors that apply to the employee who is being evaluated. A variation on this method is the weighted checklist. This approach uses the same process, but the descriptors in the checklist are given different values based on their role and importance in the somewhere in between a definite “yes” or “no” response. Forcing the choice Ranking employees Referred to as multi-person comparison methods, these appraisal strategies match each employee’s performance with that of her peers and then generates a rank order from top to bottom. In some cases, comparing employees can be based on any number of criteria conjured up by the managers themselves. In fact, it can be as basic as asking managers to rank their employees from the best to the worst. In other cases, the ranking process and strategy can be more focused, structured, and sophisticated. Multi-person comparisons work best when you have large departments or groupings of employees in the same evaluation unit. Finding critical incidents Critical incidents are a special category of employee behaviors that focus on two distinct areas: particularly outstanding behaviors and particularly questionable behaviors. The critical incidents method of performance appraisal is based on managers spending time during the year observing and gathering behavioral data on their employees, while looking extra carefully for those critical incidents. Using rating scales tied to behavior Instead of relying on behaviors that can be appraised in any position in a company, one well-known appraisal method takes the process into a different arena and bases evaluations on specific behaviors required for each individual position in an individual company. This approach is known as behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS). Development of BARS evaluations requires an in-depth understanding of each position’s key tasks, along with an understanding of the full range of behaviors displayed by individuals in carrying out such tasks. You rate these behaviors for each employee; then you anchor each behavior to points on a rating scale, which indicates whether the behavior is exceptional, excellent, fully competent, or unsatisfactory. The result is a rating scale for each task. Managing by objectives MBO begins with managers at the top of the company setting goals. Then managers and employees at each successively lower level develop their own goals. Employees’ goals are designed to support the goals of their own managers. In this way, the entire organization is linked together in the pursuit of objectives.

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How to Build Self-Awareness during Employee Appraisals

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Performance appraisals have the unique power to help employees throughout the company build their self-awareness, whether they’re being evaluated or doing the evaluating. The better that employees truly understand themselves, the better they’ll be able to learn, grow, and perform on the job. If their self-insights are marginal, their work is likely to be marginal, too. Generating insights for your employees A well-crafted performance appraisal is one of the most powerful tools for increasing your employees’ self-awareness. With greater understanding of their strengths and weaknesses on the job, it’s far easier for them to be more focused, goal-oriented, and productive. An effective way to teach your employees is to focus on them as individuals, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to education. As an educational process, performance appraisal is 100 percent focused on your employees as unique individuals. The feedback that your employees receive during a performance appraisal has extra credibility for one main reason: You’re providing it. Employees are more likely to believe and internalize your comments because you’ve observed and analyzed their performance, and because you’re one of the most important people in their lives. If you’re unsure about this, just ask them. Generating awareness for yourself As a manager in the performance appraisal process, you have three key opportunities to build your own self-awareness. (You didn’t think your employees were the only ones who had something to learn, did you?) The feedback that you receive from your own manager can be a major help in strengthening your self-awareness, just as your comments do for your employees. If you opt to complete a self-evaluation form, you, too, are afforded the opportunities for self-awareness that accompany this step in the process. If your company uses a 360-degree feedback program, your peers, employees, and others in the workplace can enhance your self-awareness on a wide range of workplace behaviors, including planning, organizing, communicating, delegating, and leading. With a greater understanding of how you’re perceived in these areas (and in many others that are part of managerial performance), you, too, now have the advantage of looking at yourself in many mirrors. You can truly see yourself as others see you, and that is one of the premier building blocks for self-awareness.

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Behind BARS: Evaluating Employees with Behaviorally Anchored Rating Scales

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

The BARS (behaviorally anchored rating scales) method of evaluating employees carries typical job appraisals one step further: Instead of relying on behaviors that can be appraised in any position in a company, the BARS method bases evaluations on specific behaviors required for each individual position in an individual company. The BARS method explained Development of BARS evaluations requires an in-depth understanding of each position’s key tasks, along with an understanding of the full range of behaviors displayed by individuals in carrying out such tasks. You rate these behaviors for each employee; then you anchor each behavior to points on a rating scale, which indicates whether the behavior is exceptional, excellent, fully competent, or unsatisfactory. The result is a rating scale for each task. For example, in a hypothetical position of human resources coordinator, one of the job holder’s responsibilities is to complete status change notices, which update the personnel system regarding changes in employee pay, position, title, supervisor, and personal data. The BARS method for this specific task in this specific job could read as follows: 5 — Exceptional performance: Accurately completes and submits all status change notices within an hour of request. 4 — Excellent performance: Verifies all status change notice information with requesting manager before submitting. 3 — Fully competent performance: Completes status change notice forms by the end of the workday. 2 — Marginal performance: Argues when asked to complete a status change notice. 1 — Unsatisfactory performance: Says status change notice forms have been submitted when they haven’t. Pros and cons of the BARS method The BARS approach offers several key advantages: It’s behaviorally based. The BARS system is totally focused on employee performance. Ideally, it removes all uncertainty regarding the meaning of each numerical rating. It’s easy to use. The clear behavioral indicators make the process easier for the manager to carry out and the employee to accept. It’s equitable. With its heavy emphasis on behavior, the evaluation process comes across as fair. It’s fully individualized. From the standpoint of consistency within a company, BARS is designed and applied individually and uniquely for every position. It’s action-oriented. With an understanding of the specific performance expectations and standards of excellence, employees can much more easily take steps to improve their performance, and they’re more likely to do so as a result. Like any method, BARS isn’t perfect. Here are some of the drawbacks to the BARS approach: The process of creating and implementing BARS is time-consuming, difficult, and expensive. Each BARS form must be created from scratch for every position in the company. Sometimes the listed behaviors still don’t include certain actions required of the employee, so managers can have difficulty as signing a rating. It’s high maintenance. Jobs change over time, which means that BARS requires a high degree of monitoring and maintenance. It’s demanding of managers. In order to successfully conduct BARS evaluations, managers need detailed information regarding the actions of their employees. Gathering such data can be quite time-consuming, and many managers end up letting this slide.

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Performance Appraisal Technique: Managing by Objectives

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

One well-regarded and widely used approach to performance appraisal is called management by objectives (MBO). By definition, under this method, you evaluate your employees on the basis of results. MBO is more than performance appraisal — it’s a construct for managing the entire organization. Its breadth includes the organization’s vision, values, strategies, goals, and performance measurement. MBO begins with managers at the top of the company setting goals. Then managers and employees at each successively lower level develop their own goals. Employees’ goals are designed to support the goals of their own managers. In this way, the entire organization is linked together in the pursuit of objectives. The focus is on outcomes that are clear, specific, measurable, and supported by action plans, benchmark dates, and deadlines. All aspects of the goal-setting process also apply to the employees’ personal and developmental goals, such as building their skills or knowledge base. After employees meet with their managers to establish their goals and action plans, the employees return to work newly energized and focused on specific short-term and longer-term targets. Simultaneously, their managers monitor the employees’ performance, provide coaching and support, remove barriers or help employees overcome them, and make adjustments and course corrections as necessary. The employees’ performance and progress are clear, measured, documented, and transparent every step of the way. Employees are highly motivated through MBO because they’ve been able to actively participate in the process of setting goals, instead of simply having the goals dumped on them. Their involvement in this type of decision-making helps meet many of their higher-level needs for accomplishment, achievement, recognition, and self-worth. MBO brings a wide range of advantages to the appraisal process: It helps build relationships between managers and employees. MBO includes a great deal of contact and communication between managers and their employees, which builds camaraderie, communication, and trust — all key elements in strengthening teamwork. It fosters a comfortable climate in the workplace. MBO helps build an atmosphere of respect and trust within a given department and beyond. Because managers work directly with employees to identify and solve problems, MBO improves the quality of decision-making and problem solving. It’s fair. Employees are evaluated on the basis of their performance and attainment of goals, which is regarded as fair and energizing. It’s quick and easy. Performance evaluation forms associated with MBO are a breeze to complete. Typically, they spell out each objective as established at the beginning of the cycle, and then provide a space for the manager to summarize the results. Some MBO forms also include a scale that asks for a numerical assessment of the employees’ success in meeting their goals. These scales guide the managers in the rating process by including specific descriptions of excellent, good, fair, and poor levels of goal attainment.

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How to Use Performance Appraisals to Motivate Employees

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Motivation is the process that energizes employees and propels them to pursue their goals. Well-designed and well-executed performance appraisals have a strong motivational impact. Appraisals have the power to motivate employees because they provide a number of interconnected benefits: They demonstrate the need for improvement. If employees don’t have a clear understanding of how they’ve been performing, they can’t be motivated to make any improvements. They meet higher-level psychological needs. Researchers continue to find that recognition is one of the most powerful forms of motivation for large numbers of employees. Although you can find numerous possible sources of recognition on the job, performance appraisals are an opportunity for employees to receive formal, significant, and enduring recognition from their manager. They build a sense of personal value. When managers take the time and effort to carefully review, analyze, document, and discuss performance with employees, the underlying message to the employees is that they’re important and valuable, and this alone is quite rewarding, whether the feedback is positive or not. They enhance personal development. Performance evaluations are motivational for employees who are looking to enhance their personal learning, growth, and development. Appraisals are a highly valuable source of information, insights, and tools necessary for such progress. Performance appraisals are similarly motivational for employees whose needs are centered on achievement, goal attainment, and sensing personal effectiveness, respect, and trust. They turn employees around. When employees are performing poorly, performance appraisals can provide the wakeup call that they need to get refocused and reenergized. With performance appraisal, however, the purpose of the session is not strictly disciplinary, so the employee is more likely to walk in with a more receptive and open mind. As a result, your comments regarding an employee’s questionable performance have an excellent chance of being heard and generating action as a result. They increase satisfaction. When performance appraisals meet the employees’ needs in such areas as gaining recognition, sensing achievement and competence, experiencing growth, and meeting objectives, they’re also contributing to the employees’ job satisfaction, and this is one of the most important elements at work today. When employees are satisfied, some of the most visible indicators are reduced turnover, absenteeism, and tardiness. On the flip side, when employees are subjected to a shoddy or even nonexistent performance appraisal system, the opportunities to fulfill these higher-level employee needs are substantially reduced.

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