Conversational Performance Evaluations
by Marnie Green
When you write a performance evaluation, who are you writing for? Do you write "about" the employee or do you write "to" the employee? The traditional approach to writing evaluations is to write about the employee as if they were an object - in the third person. We would say, "Mr. Finley provided satisfactory service to his clients." This approach is formal and creates a distance between you and the employee. It also ignores the person who really cares about the document: the employee.
The ideal tone for writing a performance evaluation is to write it to the employee. Here are some examples:
* "Steve, you met four of the six goals that were set for you this year."
* "Your ability to solve customer problems has benefited the organization in numerous ways this year. For example, Mr. Abbett of XYZ Industries told me that you called his office on a Saturday to make sure their issues were resolved."
* "John, you struggled this year to achieve your production goals."
These are examples of performance comments being conversational in nature. By using the employee's name and by using pronouns like "you" and "your," the written comments take on a softer, friendlier appeal. When the comments are written "about" the employee, as in "Mr. Finley met four of the six goals that were set for him this year," a distance is created between you and the employee. While some supervisors would like to hide behind this more formal tone, it does nothing to develop rapport between you and the employee. And besides, who really cares about what is written in the evaluation document? Clearly, it's the employee who will be most interested to read your thoughts.
The next time you sit down to write a performance evaluation, think about your tone. Are you using the evaluation as an opportunity to build trust and rapport or to distance yourself from employees?
Marnie Green may be contacted at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Arizona-based Management Education Group, Inc. She is the author of Painless Performance Evaluations: A Practical Approach to Managing Day to Day Employee Performance (Pearson/Prentice Hall). Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop leaders today for the workforce of tomorrow. Contact Green at http://www.managementeducationgroup.com