Performance Review Training for Manager: 5 Things to Remember

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Conducting formal performance appraisals with each of their employees is not something most line managers look forward to doing. To motivate managers to do this critical function — because they want to — corporate executives responsible for human resources management need to show them how to get positive results from their appraisal sessions by providing formal training on conducting appraisals, creating the right atmosphere for the meeting, how to dispense criticism, and avoid common traps.

Performance Appraisal Training

You can incorporate performance evaluation training into your regular performance evaluation procedures. Start with these essential points.

Explain the importance and purpose of evaluations. While it may seem obvious to you, reiterating these ideas will help emphasize the need to conduct fair and legal appraisals.

Relate your points directly to the managers’ interests. For example, managers may have only a peripheral interest in avoiding lawsuits because they usually don’t get sued personally. Explain how complaints of discrimination or unfairness against them can count against their own ratings, raises and bonuses.

Review how proper reviews improve employee performance, which can make the managers’ jobs easier. Improved employee performance means improved departmental performance.

Great Documentation: 5 ‘Must Haves’

Performance reviews should go through a tcheck system to ensure managers don’t inadvertently write, say, or do anything that could be perceived as discriminatory. For example, managers should review appraisal records carefully before presenting them to employees to flag any potential problem areas in specific evaluations.

1. Create a paper trail.

This begins long before the formal performance appraisal. During the year, managers must document alll activity for each employee, from reprimands to sales figures to attendance. These notes do not go into employees’ personnel files until the issue is reviewed with the employee.

>At appraisal time, explain to employees how the issues have affected their performance ratings. With a clear explanation, employees will not be able to claim a biased motive for unsatisfactory ratings. Have employees sign the documentation, so they cannot claim they were not warned about any performance problems.

2. Allow for employee rebuttals.

Employees should be given the opportunity to add a rebuttal.

Employee rebuttals will not undermine the documentation. Courts have ruled that, barring a discriminatory or retaliatory motive, an employer’s perception of an employee’s poor performance is not subordinate to the employee’s claims to the contrary.

3. Take the good with the bad.

Be sure to add to the documentation an employee’s positive performance ratings. The lack of documentation here may be used to support the co-worker’s discrimination charge. Example: A reduction-in-force decision comes down to these two employees’ performance ratings.

4. Apply performance standards correctly.

Effective performance evaluations relate criticism and acclaim to the company’s performance standards. Otherwise, reviews that seem arbitrary may be perceived as biased.

5. Don’t let positives turn negative.

Managers are often uncomfortable giving negative reviews for fear that the criticism will be construed as discriminatory. Without constructive criticism, employees will have little incentive to change — a disservice to both the employee and the company. The second problem that can occur is when the positive performance reviews contradict negative employment actions. If an employee isn’t performing up to standards, putting a positive spin on the issue or giving a higher score than deserved can get the company into trouble if the manager ends up terminating the employee for poor performance.

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