How to write a better performance review

A better performance reviewAs I was doing a little Kumquat research, I just happened to stumble upon this article, entitled “How to write a better performance review.”

It’s nearly a decade old.

The problem? It still smells as fresh as a daisy in terms of its guidance. Many of the tips still aren’t part and parcel of training people to handle the employee review process. But they should be.

So I’m highlighting them, in the hopes that you’ll agree and help lead the charge. Some of my favorites?

  • Be complete. Include the good, the bad and the ugly. Don’t be afraid to criticize. Don’t forget to praise.
  • Know what you’re looking for. Evaluate the right things. Concentrate exclusively on factors directly related to job performance.
  • Don’t beat around the bush or sugarcoat needed criticism. Say what has to be said and move on.
  • Be as specific as possible. Use examples. Glittering generalities don’t help much in targeting action or improvement plans.
  • Relate evaluations to previous reviews. Are things better? Worse? The same?
  • Choose words carefully. The goal is clarity.

My hope? Someone reads this a decade from now and says, “Well, duh, everyone knows that.”

About Rick Turoczy

More than mildly obsessed with the Portland startup community. Founder and editor at Silicon Florist. Cofounder and general manager at PIE. Follow me on Twitter: @turoczy
This entry was posted in Kumquat, Performance, Review, Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to How to write a better performance review

  1. Here here! (Or is it hear, hear?).

    I’m working with a client right now on improving their performance management process. They lack current, clear role/responsibility definitions and skill & ability requirements for each job. Expectations for individual performance (business goals and objectives the employee needs to hit) weren’t articulated, measurable or documented. We’re working to change all this, but without these tools in place there’s no way to truly evaluate the employee or write a solid performance review.

    Unfortunately, my client isn’t rare. Employees are too often reviewed on unclear criteria, managers have little to go on other than “their general impression” of the employee at the time of the review (often forgetting the entire year’s worth of work) and nobody is happy with the process.

    But wait! The employee should take ownership if those tools aren’t in place. If it’s not clear what you are responsible for at work (to yourself or anyone else), and you aren’t working toward achieving measurable goals, YOU need to make that happen. It’s time to “manage up.”

  2. Rick Turoczy says:

    I think this is common of processes that have “taken on a life of their own” or “that we have to do.”

    If we have to do it, people seem to think, then it doesn’t matter if it works or not. We’ll have to do it one way or the other.

    In that way, all of these pursuits become so much busy work for folks. When they could be incredibly valuable for growth and motivation.

    And yes, it’s our responsibility as employees to either a) fix it, b) champion the campaign to fix it, or c) leave. It’s just not worth the soul-rotting existence to stay in that kind of environment.

    I applaud your client, both for seeing the problem for what it was and, of course, for hiring such intelligent help. 😉

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