Performance Evaluations: Strategies for Handling Employee Reactions
Administering performance evaluations is often the least favorite part of a manager’s job, not least due to the responses of their employees to the reviews. This chart offers a look at some common scenarios in performance evaluations, and offers solutions for managers to use to handle employee reactions, and even prevent negative reactions from occurring.
|“Hey Ed, could you stop in my office for a moment?”||“That’s it? That’s my review?”||Too brief and no specific feedback on work they’ve done in the last year. Be specific about their performance.|
|Meeting on the fly (See above)||“Thanks for all of the prep time. I guess he’s just too busy to give me feedback on how I’m doing.”||Prepare!|
|“You’re doing great.”||“I’m doing great. Really?”||Be truthful—if the boss is off-base in her perceptions of an employee’s performance, it’s frustrating for the employee.|
|Being Too Positive Or Negative||“Who knows if I can do anything right!||Consider the effect on the employee you want, and adjust your communication.|
|The manager has been troubled by an aspect of his performance, but never mentions it to them until he fires him.||“What do you mean I’m fired?”||Be proactive and provide feedback and coaching throughout the annual performance cycle. No surprises.|
|Focus on the most recent event as the basis for analyzing the entire past year’s performance.||
“I just need to ramp up before my evaluation because that’s all she looks at”
“All she focused on was the mistake I made last month.”
|Review the entire year’s performance.|
|Too much talking and not enough listening: you spend 45 minutes criticized the employee’s work.||“When is it my turn to talk?”||
It’s important, to get the employee’s response as to why she may have underperformed.
Make the review interactive.
|Being critical without being constructive||“Anything else you want to blame me for?||Provide constructive advice on how the employee can improve.|
|The “Like Me” Bias||“I’m totally different from her. No wonder she hates me.”||“Like Me” bias is an issue for the manager who focuses on style or process and not on the performance outcomes.|
|No discussion about employee’s career ambitions.||“He’s not too interested in my staying here long-term.”||Ask them, “What do you want to do” and listen. Offer suggestions.|
|“You’ve got a bad attitude.”||“What do you mean?”||Using labels rather than behaviors and examples provides no guidance for the employee’s improvement. Cite specific examples.|
|“You didn’t try and you don’t care.”||“This is a personal attack!”||Intent is mostly irrelevant and it’s difficult to prove. Concentrate on the employee’s output, not his intent|
|“I’m seeing a lack of commitment”||“But I’m getting the job done!”||If the work product meets expectations as to objective measures, don’t knock an employee who works late at night at home and doesn’t come in early. *People have personal matters, and this can get into discrimination if you aren’t careful.|
|“You’re never on time and you’re always careless.”||“I guess I’m always bad and never good.”||Avoid absolutes. No one is “always” something or “never” anything.|
|Over-evaluation: an employee with substandard performance is marked as “meeting expectations,” and an average employee gets an “exceeding expectations.”||Provides false sense of security to one employee and devalues excellent performance by the other.||Start the evaluation of each criterion with “meets expectations” and then go up or down.|
|No goal-setting or realistic goals||“Ya. Whatever. This are just words on the page that you need to do for HR.”||Set SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Concentrate on the employee’s workplace performance/behavior.|
Inconsistency in reviews:
A. From one year to the next;
B. Between comments and scores on an employee’s evaluation; or
C. Seemingly unfair or inconsistent application of standards to different employees
|“This is a joke and isn’t fair.”||
A. Mark down the qualitative comments first and then determine what give the quantitative score.
B. If there is a significant change downward in performance, give interim notice, such as a midyear review.
C. Review each subordinate, one at a time. Evaluate all employees on quality of work first, and then quantity of work second.
|Lack of follow-up||“OK. I guess we’ll re-visit that in a year…”||Check in with a quarterly review of the goals to see if the employee is on track. Offer mid-term feedback on progress on the goals.|
|POTENTIALLY VOLATILE REVIEW REACTIONS|
|Don’t respond or challenge the employee while he’s upset or angry.||This could get the employee heated up and angry again||Give the employee adequate time to get past the initial reaction and cool off.|
|“I can see why you’re upset.||This could get the employee heated up and angry again||Give the employee adequate time to get past the initial reaction and cool off.|
|Take a break.||When apparent employee can’t regain professional composure.||Also consider concluding the meeting and reschedule.|
|If you think the employee may become violent:||Leave the room immediately and contact an in-house security guard and 911.|