One Simple And Direct Rule For Employee Reviews

Mention doing employee reviews, and most managers will groan in agony at the thought. While it’s not so bad to give a good review, no one likes when they have to discuss poor performance. The last company I worked for tried form after form, looking for the right recipe of questions for evaluation. None of them seemed to be fair to both the employee and to the business. It took a while, but we figured out a better way.

I have had the good fortune to work alongside some very good managers. One of these colleagues had a saying he’d often repeat,

“If you walk by, you just gave permission.”

This reminded us to never be too busy to deal with a correction. The best learning comes when we address a problem when it happens. Their next performance review might be weeks or months later. By that time, the facts would no longer be fresh in everyone’s minds.

I used this thought process to encourage my staff, too. It was a boost to everyone whenever anyone was caught doing something right!

This perspective of immediate feedback enhanced our process of writing reviews. We made a commitment to keep track of such comments made to the employee on a simple two-column sheet. We tracked any problems that we addressed in one column, and any successes in the second column. These dated references informed our statements as we filled out the performance review.

We found this to give a much more balanced review than we had done before. The employee would have had time to ask questions and make adjustments. Our judgment of the employee’s performance was no longer skewed by the last thing we remembered. The list was fact-based, and so less apt to be biased.

There was one hard and fast rule. Do not make an entry on the review prep sheet unless the employee has been told about it, good or bad.

This approach worked to produce a fair evaluation. I was considerably more confident in my assessments.

To my mind, the best reviews were the ones with no surprises because they’d already heard about it at the time.


Do you have any tools that you've used to produce better reviews? Please share them in the comments here, or on my Facebook page!