2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews
Ready-to-Use Words and Phrases That Really Get Results
Author: Paul Falcone
Pub Date: June 2005
Print Edition: $10.95
Print ISBN: 9780814472828
Page Count: 224
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814428702
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How to Use This Book in Order to Save Time and Write Compelling Performance Appraisals
If you've purchased this book, you're serious about strengthening your written communication skills and developing your subordinates. The truth of the matter is that most performance reviews in corporate America are drafted without much thought and are submitted well after the deadline--not much of a motivational tool for workers longing for appreciation for a job well done. Yet taking the time to formally appraise employees' performance once a year has much more significance than many managers realize.
In poll after poll, workers rank pay fourth or fifth on the list of critical workplace factors--well below the critical areas of open communication and recognition for a job well done. American management teams fail to recognize the critical importance of ongoing feedback and staff development in employee retention matters--even when there are scarce dollars available for merit increase pools. The optimal leadership style provides ongoing feedback day in and day out on a regular and predictable basis. The best people managers realize that by shifting responsibility for employee performance evaluations back to their staff members, they take themselves out of the role of unilateral decision maker and disciplinarian and place themselves into the role of career mentor and coach.
In addition, managers who stand out among their peers recognize that the Development section of any performance appraisal is the most critical piece of the process because it constructs a blueprint for employee growth and learning. The learning curve is indeed the glue that binds people to companies. Despite small merit increase pools or opportunities for vertical promotion available in any company at any particular time, satisfied employees will perform at their best and remain loyal when they feel connected, sense that they make a difference at work, and add critical skills and experiences to their resumes.
They say that people "join companies and leave managers." It's also said that the difference between an active job seeker and a passive job seeker is one bad day in the office. If your most respected critic were to objectively evaluate your leadership abilities and staff development skills, how do you feel you would rank if were evaluated according to the following criteria:
* How effective are you at delegating to and motivating your staff?
* How consistent are you in putting their career and development needs above your own in a goodwill attempt to help them build their resumes and prepare for the next step in progression in their careers--at your company or elsewhere?
* How well do you address performance achievements and problems day in and day out so that subordinates understand what is expected of them and how success is measured in your group?
The annual performance appraisal process is the once-a-year validation that someone is making a positive difference--that their contributions over 365 days of work are formally recognized and celebrated. Yet, too many managers fill in annual appraisal forms in a perfunctory fashion, looking at the process as a bothersome, yet mandatory task. Enlightened managers, on the other hand, make their jobs much easier by delegating appropriately, listening attentively, and having fun at work. It's not that hard to transition to "enlightened management" status: All it takes is a willingness to rethink your role in your company, your influence over those you supervise, and your ability to bring out the best in others by motivating them to reach beyond their comfort zone.
Remember that motivation is internal. You're not responsible for motivating your staff, per se; people are responsible for motivating themselves. You are, however, responsible for creating a work environment in which people can motivate themselves and find new ways of reinventing their work in light of your company's changing needs. To that end, this book will serve as a handy time saver, a narrative assistant, and an insightful guide into new ways of recognizing and rewarding performance.
How to Use This Book
It is often the case that managers avoid or delay written communication tasks that may appear to be confrontational. Similar to a book I've written called 101 Sample Write-Ups for Documenting Employee Performance Problems: A Guide to Progressive Discipline and Termination, this book's key purpose is to help you find the right words and descriptive phrases to communicate your thoughts and perceptions in a concrete manner for specific situations.
In Part I, we'll address the most commonly rated performance factors, or "core competencies," that a majority of companies use to assess their workers. Included among the core competencies are the topics of "managerial style" and "personal style"--often the most difficult issues to describe in an annual performance review. The phrases in these sections fit a variety of interpersonal and managerial styles, commitment levels, pace, need for structure, emotional intelligence, and ability to prioritize and juggle multiple tasks. Refer to these sections any time you have a difficult time finding the right words to describe an individual's preferences, inclinations, peculiarities, or other outstanding features. You might just find a special way of phrasing something that, up to now, you've had a hard time identifying and describing in others.
For each of the commonly rated performance factors in Part I, we provide descriptive phrases that can be used to evaluate historical performance, organized in two sections:
For all of the core competencies we also provide a third section called "Goals." This section provides multiple examples of development plans for outlining key areas of future growth and learning. These phrases will help you structure your recommendations for employee improvement over the coming review period. As with the two other sections, you could simply use these statements "as is" or customize them for your particular needs.
Simply stated, forward-looking development plans give you a process to prevent future performance problems and to create an environment in which employees could motivate themselves. That, more than anything, will give you peace of mind and turn you into a motivator and coach rather than a unilateral disciplinarian and decision maker. Your employees will benefit too as they're given the freedom and discretion to self-monitor and self-correct in an empowered environment. There's no greater formula for enlightened leadership.
Whereas Part I covers general core competencies, in Part II we address the functional components of many common positions in Corporate America, including positions in sales, marketing, finance, legal, human resources, operations, information technology, and manufacturing. It is important to be able to benchmark particular functions and responsibilities that are common in such universal positions, and to address performance expectations for each.
There are four appendixes in the book. Appendixes A and B provide useful lists of high impact verbs and adverbs that will prompt you when finding just the right word tends to escape you. Appendix C is a brief discussion of merit increases and the five-point grading scale. Appendix D is a short index of the titles and roles that appear in this book.
In essence, in this book you have a handy library of practical, ready-to-use phrases that will help you acknowledge outstanding job performance, address substandard work quality, and outline developmental opportunities for your direct reports. In addition to saving time, you'll strengthen your self-confidence and distinguish yourself in writing as a leader and career builder.
The Performance Management Cycle
There are three components of the Performance Management Cycle:
1. Goal setting and planning
2. Ongoing feedback and coaching
3. Appraisal and reward
The annual performance appraisal clearly speaks to the third issue, but appraisal and reward can't be accomplished in a vacuum. That third stage is the culmination resulting from ongoing efforts in the first two stages. The performance management cycle is a continuum leading to a particular resolution in the final (third) step, but all three stages are intrinsically linked to the end result--the performance appraisal and associated merit increase (reward).
Annual performance appraisals are not meant to be a paper chase--a mandatory exercise that creates a snapshot of your impressions as a supervisor about a subordinate's work. Instead, they should be a collaborative effort that builds on open communication and constant feedback. Thus, investing in goal setting should be a two-way communication: Employees who have advanced input into their own career development will typically buy in to the suggestions much more readily than when those goals are imposed from above. And remember, no matter how "perfectly written" these goals are on the actual performance appraisal form, they'll be useless without ongoing communication throughout the review period.
So keep a copy of each of your staff member's annual reviews in your desk, and make sure they do the same. Develop a habit of reviewing the status of performance achievement and skills development on a quarterly basis. You'll find that your business relationships will be focused, you'll never again feel like you're flying blind, and your subordinates will have less of a need for ongoing supervision.
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