Poor performance evaluations can be excruciating for both managers and employees. But if you learn to deliver poor performance evaluations gently and effectively, you improve the odds that your employee will actually improve his performance in response to your feedback, rather than simply resenting and dreading the process.
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"In the Future"
Although a performance evaluation is based on feedback and observations of an employee's past performance, the evaluation will be most likely to achieve its goal of improving the employee's performance if you focus on the future rather than the past. Instead of saying, "You shouldn't have been sitting there doing nothing," it is more productive to say, "In the future I want you to come to me if you're between tasks, and I'll give you something else to do."
Be specific about what you want your employee to do to improve her performance. Whenever possible, use precise numbers and criteria, such as telling her that you need her to speed up production and make 10 widgets per hour, rather than five. Use these instructions as benchmarks to measure future improvement or lack of change. Refer to them during future performance evaluations. Set goals such as naming a time frame for this accelerated production and, if possible, offer a reward such as a raise.
"If You Don't..."
Inform your employee of the consequences he can expect if he does not make the changes you request. He has the right to know whether his performance is so unsuitable that he is on the verge of being fired, or whether an expected promotion is at stake. Being clear about the potential consequences of failing to change his behaviour is a matter of basic decency, and it also gives you a specific warning to refer to if he does not make the changes you request.
Use the poor performance review as an opportunity to work with your employee to develop a plan for improvement and growth. Engage your employee in this process by asking him to communicate personal goals for his work, such as showing up on time every day. Solicit your employee's input regarding skills and opportunities he would like to have within the company, and use these as incentives. For example, agree to let him work more in the customer service department if that interests him, provided he comes to work on time every day.
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