THE RIGHT PHRASE FOR EVERY SITUATION . . . EVERY TIME
The ability to craft an employee review that is meaningful and change-driven is what separates average supervisors from great managers. How often, though,
have you struggled to find the most appropriate words for your needs?
This completely revised and updated second edition of Perfect Phrases for Performance Reviews provides hundreds of ready-made phrases you can use to clearly communicate any employee's performance in 74 different skill areas. Learn the most effective language for:
- Crafting an accurate, carefully worded assessment
- Documenting behaviors and accomplishments
- Guiding and developing promising workers
- Conducting face-to-face interviews
About the Author
Douglas Max is managing director of LR Communications, a firm that conducts on-site seminars in writing and presentation skills.
Robert Bacal is the author of Managing Performance and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Consulting.
Read an Excerpt
PERFECT PHRASES for PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Describing Employee Performance
By Douglas Max, Robert Bacal
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.Copyright © 2011The McGraw-Hill Companies
All rights reserved.
How to Plan, Conduct, and Write a Performance Review
Undertaking formal performance appraisals is not an activity most managers relish, but it's an important part of the job of a manager. You have an opportunity, by reviewing performance effectively, to directly and positively affect the future productivity of your employees. Conducting an effective appraisal means more than just filling out the form your company uses, however. What goes on before you fill out the form is critical to getting the results you're looking for.
If all you want to do is get forms filled out, skip ahead to Part Two. If you want to accomplish something worthwhile that will make your life easier, continue reading.
As part of the appraisal process in many organizations, the manager and employee have a meeting where the manager explains the appraisal process and the criteria for judging performance. If the process involves goals, the manager and employee discuss and agree on what they both would like to see achieved over a certain time period (usually a year) and, perhaps, the kind of resources the employee will need to succeed. If you are responsible for defining employee goals, then use the initial meeting to explain these goals (and how you will work together to achieve those goals, if appropriate).
Throughout the year, document significant behaviors that are worthy of discussion during a performance review. Keep notes as you observe the performance of your employees. It's simple and easy to do—far easier than waiting until the end of the year and then trying to recollect what happened.
Setting Performance Goals
What is a goal? It's an agreed-upon statement of what an employee will achieve in a specified period. A goals statement should also outline the resources necessary to achieve the goals and how you and your employee will measure success.
Each goal should be measurable, attainable, moderately difficult, and accepted by the employee. Here are some examples:
* Number of rejected items from manufacturing line will not exceed 0.3 percent per week.
* Sales per quarter will increase by 5 percent.
* Expense account will not exceed budget.
* Sign up five new customers per month.
In other words, goals should be measurable and aimed at improving the performance of the employee. Well, so the theory goes. Actually the tricky part is "measurable." It turns out that the things that are easy to measure are usually trivial, and the things that are hard to measure are what separate a good employee from a lesser one. That doesn't mean we give up on measurable goals. It does mean that perfection is not possible.
Why do we write goals? Written goals allow you to both measure and recognize achievement. They also let you identify and correct performance problems, and they enable you to identify and focus on your top priorities. Aim to limit the number of long-term goals to no more than five. You can write additional short-term goals for projects that can be completed in a few weeks or months.
How do you write goals? To write goals, you first need to collect information from your own records and those of your employees. The next section explains the kind of information you might use.
What kind of information will you need? You and your employees can best answer this question because it depends on the specific situation and each job. Some guidelines:
Most goals that relate to productivity are generally expressed in terms that include:
* Volume of work
* Accuracy of work
* Time to produce X
* Cost per unit of X
Volume measures the amount of work performed, for example, the number of:
* Orders entered
* Cartons packed
* Requisitions written
* Documents filed
Accuracy measures the degree to which the work is performed free of error, or the quality of the work, for example, the percentage of:
* Orders entered accurately vs. inaccurately
* Cartons packed correctly vs. incorrectly
* Requisitions written correctly vs. incorrectly
* Documents filed accurately vs. inaccurately
Time measures the duration of work performed, per hour, per day, per week, per month, or per year. Examples include:
* Claims processed per hour/day/week
* Requisitions received and written on the first day/second day/third day
* Documents received and filed on the first day/second day/third day
Cost measures the dollars spent for work performed. For example:
What if goal achievement is difficult to measure? There may be times when an employee has goals that you cannot easily measure. This does not mean that you should not have such goals. Just be certain to have some criteria for evaluating the level of achievement. Here are some examples:
* Monthly reports. "Performance is acceptable when I turn in completed monthly reports no more than two times late in any four-month period, without more than one incident of it being more than one week late in any six-month period, and when it is accepted by my boss in all cases with no more than two revisions that are completed in no more than one week."
* Forecasting. "I will not fail to bring to my boss's attention adverse trends in my performance before the failure point is reached. This will happen no more than two times in any 12-month period."
* Employee development. "Performance is acceptable when training, motivation, and appraisal are discussed during at least two meetings annually between me and each of my direct reports."
Documenting Critical Incidents and Significant Behaviors
An important part of the appraisal process involves recording incidents and behaviors that are out of the ordinary. These are referred to as "critical incidents" and "significant behaviors." A critical incident is behavior that is usually extreme (either good or bad) and that should be recorded for legal reasons, for disciplinary measures, or for purposes of recognizing exemplary actions "above and beyond the call of duty." A significant behavior is one that can make a real difference in an employee's performance.
There are many reasons you should keep a record of employees' significant behaviors:
* It increases the accuracy of the performance appraisal, because it's based on documentation rather than memory.
* It provides evidence to support ratings.
* It helps guarantee that you'll consider the performance during the entire appraisal period.
* It reduces bias that occurs when you rate only the most recent behavior.
To be as accurate as possible, write down significant behaviors as soon as possible after you have observed the behavior. Record only the specific behavioral facts of the case. Do not include opinions. Do not rely on hearsay! To ensure that the documentation is a representative record of an individual's performance, document performance during the entire appraisal period.
In documenting behaviors, be consistent in how you do it. Use the same format and the same level of detail with each individual. Document both productive and unproductive behaviors. Documenting significant behaviors helps to make the performance evaluation interview more productive. You'll be more confident going into the interview if you have a record of behaviors to back up your ratings because you'll be more confident you're rating your employee accurately.
Excerpted from PERFECT PHRASES for PERFORMANCE REVIEWS by Douglas Max. Copyright © 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies. Excerpted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The Most Important Preface You Will Ever Read....................
Part One. Background for Conducting Performance Reviews....................
How to Plan, Conduct, and Write a Performance Review....................
Part Two. Examples of Forms for Performance Reviews....................
Performance Review Forms....................
Part Three. Perfect Phrases for Performance Reviews....................
Topics Listed Alphabetically....................
Topics by Job Category....................
General Job Skills/Traits....................
Appendix A. Ten Mistakes Managers Make When Conducting Performance Appraisals......
Appendix B. Seven Mistakes Employees Make During Performance Appraisals............
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is an excellent aid for any supervisor or manager who wishes to make clear distinctions of performance levels, and for those who are in the throes of clarifying performance ratings and levels. A clear explaination of how to do reviews, with a set of well thought-out example forms, adds value to this work. For those who struggle with getting just the right turn of phrase, to ensure the reviewee understands what is being done right, what needs work or improvement, and what constitutes improvement, PERFECT PHRASES FOR PERFORMANCE REVIEWS will be welcomed with relief. The time saved, alone, will make this title well worth the cost to almost any business with enough employees to justify performance reviews. Recommend this title, either alone, or in conjunction with EFFECTIVE PHRASES FOR PERFORMANCE APPRAISALS, by James E. Neal; the latter title includes two-word phrases and adjectives, which could adapt PERFECT PHRASES even further, and would be a valuable combination for performance reviewers in all industries, businesses, and for government employees.
I use this book, along with "Perfect Phrases for Setting Performance Goals" probably more than an other in my arsenal of business related books. It is perfect for helping me craft anything from how best to document an issue to writing performance appriasals to those moments when I just need help saying the right thing while taking the "emotion" out of it. I actually logged on to order a copy for a friend who just called asking my opinion on how best to handle an employee concern and as always, I pulled this book out and came up with just what we needed.
I teach performance appraisal writing and tell people not to use this or other books like this one. Using these books is a cop out and does little to capture a person's accomplishments. Focus on setting measurable and attainable standards and then capturing those in the appraisal...stop being lazy, your workers aren't dumb.