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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Evaluate to Motivate

     One of the biggest issues for managers in conducting performance appraisals is actually doing them.  They hate it!  They'd rather go get a tooth pulled--without anesthesia.  Why?  I've been told it's because they don't know how to give people negative feedback.  They anticipate some ugliness will ensue when they tell somebody they aren't up to par in their job performance.  Most likely this will happen if the manager feels uncomfortable doing this type of sensitive task, especially if she's experienced it before.  The issue is not as much about having to give the feedback as it is that she's probably done it before in the wrong way.  That's why she gets push-back and defensiveness.  In order to squash being gun-shy about performance appraisals, I would challenge managers to learn to evaluate to motivate.  Here's how:
     Use the appraisal as a tool to coach your people to success.  Rather than seeing it as a weapon to beat the employee over the head with, find ways to highlight what they've done well, and get them to think about how they can expand those skills.  Help them to realize what it takes to get the highest score on the form.
     Second, think about ways to give feedback better.  What words or phrases could you say in a way that isn't so negative or critical?  Can you say it differently where it's more constructive?  For example, instead of saying, "Since you consistently come in late and leave early, your work is suffering because you never have enough time to get what you need to get done.  That's why you scored low here."  How about this:

Manager:  "Limited time prevents you from completing tasks on time, doesn't it?" 
Employee:  "Yes"
Manager:  "Do you agree that not being able to complete your tasks efficiently tends to effect the entire department?"
Employee:  "Probably, yes."
Manager:  "I'd like to see you be able to improve in that area.  What can I do to help you?"
     The employee still has the low score, but by creating a dialogue that's not accusing and asking the right questions, the manager can get the employee to think about the impact of his lackluster performance on everyone.  CAVEAT:  If the manager is checking in with the employee all year long and coaching him to success, they would never have to have this conversation at evaluation time OR the conversation wouldn't have to be awkward because they've been discussing this along the way.
     These are just two things managers can do to improve how they conduct evaluations.  For more, contact us at