How to Respond to a Performance Evaluation Rebuttal

Written by ruth mayhew
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How to Respond to a Performance Evaluation Rebuttal
When administered fairly, a performance evaluation can be helpful to the employee and employer. (Alistair Berg/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Few employees and managers look forward to the annual performance evaluation, but the practice supports an organisation's performance management system. The performance management system is the foundation for maintaining a productive and engaged work force. While some employers have a performance evaluation appeals policy, employees who are dissatisfied with their evaluation may submit a rebuttal regardless of whether or not there is an appeals policy. The responsibility for responding to an employee rebuttal lies in the purview of human resources or upper management.

Skill level:


  1. 1

    Obtain documentation the supervisor used to construct the employee's performance evaluation. At a minimum, this includes supervisor feedback over the course of the evaluation period or the previous 12 months. Assemble the employee's past performance evaluations.

  2. 2

    Draft a list of additional materials to consider, such as commendations, notes from clients or customers pertaining to the employee's quality of service and attendance records. If necessary, pull the employee's personnel file for any other information you need to respond to the rebuttal.

  3. 3

    Read the employee's rebuttal carefully, with a copy of the performance evaluation handy so you can compare each rebuttal statement to the corresponding section of the performance evaluation. Make your own notes using a separate sheet of paper. Do not make notes on either the performance evaluation or the employee's rebuttal.

  4. 4

    List specific incidents about which the employee complains, noting any incidents that can be investigated or confirmed. An example of a matter that could be investigated is a supervisor's comment about excessive absences and the employee's rebuttal disputing the attendance record.

  5. 5

    Meet with the supervisor who conducted the evaluation and explain that you've received the employee's rebuttal. Tell the supervisor the two of you will examine the performance evaluation and compare it to the employee's statements. Ensure the supervisor understands the purpose of a performance evaluation and has completed supervisory training. If you learn the supervisor did not complete training on how to conduct evaluations, schedule training immediately.

  6. 6

    Discuss every rebuttal statement and compare it to the appropriate section of the performance evaluation. Allow the supervisor to justify each rating the employee indicates is unfair or inaccurate. If there are other questions you have about performance evaluation ratings the employee did not rebut, ask the supervisor to explain the rationale used to rate the employee in certain areas.

  7. 7

    Request a meeting with the employee for a personal discussion about her rebuttal. Begin the meeting with an explanation about the company's philosophy on performance management and the importance of communication in resolving matters like this.

  8. 8

    Explain your process for comparing the rebuttal to the performance evaluation, including your meeting with the supervisor. If appropriate, describe the supervisor's explanation of ratings and the results of any claims that could be verified or investigated, such as attendance records. Allow the employee to elaborate on any statements contained in her rebuttal. Indicate when you want to schedule a meeting with the employee and supervisor together.

  9. 9

    Welcome both the supervisor and employee to your office, and announce the purpose of the meeting. The purpose is to resolve differences between the supervisor's evaluation of employee performance and the employee's rebuttal. In the meeting, your role is similar to a mediator because you have the final say on differences the employee and supervisor cannot come to resolution on themselves. Encourage candid and respectful feedback during the meeting.

  10. 10

    Facilitate a results-oriented discussion between the two. If your meeting ends with changes to evaluation ratings, indicate when those changes will be made and what effect, if any, the changes will have on the employee's merit increase. Extend a thank you to the employee and supervisor and end the meeting with the assurance that both supervisor and employee agree on the outcome.

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