Giving an employee performance appraisal can be nerve-wracking for both parties. But by creating concrete standards, using specific examples and focusing on positive aspects along with things that need improvement, you can create an experience that's not only simple and straightforward but also very helpful.
Creating concrete standards
Standards are actually a performance review requirement that needs to be implemented far in advance of the actual review. If employees don't know what's expected of them, it isn't fair to penalize them. Clear, specific expectations in writing (preferably somewhere that's visible daily) will leave no questions about what the standards are for your company.
Be as specific as possible
If an employee needs to improve in a certain area, it will be most helpful if you can be as specific as you possibly can. Using specific examples shows the employee precisely where he or she fell short and exactly how to improve. For instance, if an employee consistently shows a poor attitude, it would be better to say, "When you mumble and roll your eyes, you project a negative energy" than "You need to work on your attitude."
Specificity is important in all feedback, but it's especially crucial when highlighting negative points. Telling someone that he or she is doing something wrong can easily make a person feel defensive. So instead of focusing on what the employee was doing wrong, focus on specific ways to improve. Any time you say there's room for improvement, it's only fair that you give a few concrete suggestions.
Give positive feedback
In the interest of efficiency, it can be tempting to focus performance reviews only on things that might need to be changed. If that's all the review consists of, however, it can make the employee feel discouraged and unappreciated. It's just as important to be specific about things he or she is doing well and that should continue.
Though employee appraisals can be intimidating, with clear guidelines, specificity and positive reinforcement, they can be an important part of working toward a better work environment and an overall better company.