One of my favorite books of all time is “Effective Phrases for Performance Appraisals, A Guide to Successful Evaluations” by James E. Neal, Jr. I have purchased many editions of this book through the years and I typically supply a copy of it to everyone in my practice who performs evaluations.
The contents of this book include:
Effective Phrases (in 63 categories including accuracy, development, interpersonal skills, and motivation)
Two Word Phrases (such as competing priorities, diversified approaches, fully prepared and team performance)
Helpful Adjectives (such as adaptable, capable, perceptive, and systematic)
Helpful Verbs (such as accomplishes, adheres, determines, and establishes)
Performance Rankings (such as exceptional, unsatisfactory, and distinguished)
Time Frequency (such as always, usually, rarely and seldom)
Guidelines for Successful Evaluations (rate objectively, use significant documentation and factual examples, plan for the appraisal interview, emphasize future development, and emphasize the positive)
No manager should be without this book! Click here to purchase a new or used copy of the book on Amazon.
For a simple, 5 question performance evaluation, click here.
Many managers find it difficult to begin performance evaluations in a way that puts the employee at ease and opens the door to dialogue.
Do you make small talk or start reading from whatever form you’re using?
Do you preface the actual evaluation by setting the mood giving visual or tonal clues that it’s going to be a good evaluation or a bad evaluation?
Here are eight ways to start a performance evaluation and get things started on the right foot:
Review the agenda for the performance evaluation. This is especially important if you’re new to the organization and the employees are not sure what to expect. Tell the employee what information you’ll review and encourage them to ask questions so it’s an interactive evaluation, not just you telling them your thoughts.
Review the job description to see what changes, if any, need to be made based on duties added or removed during the year.
Review last year’s evaluation. Amazingly, many managers don’t look back at last year’s evaluation. How can improvement or goals be assessed if you’re not making a measurement between last year and this year?
Discuss big events at the group that impacted the staff. Providers coming or going. Installing EMR. The installation of other software. A move. Merging with other groups. Discuss it.
Discuss the employee’s significant events in the past year. A baby? A marriage? A divorce? A move? A Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave? A new position? Discuss it.
Review the self-evaluation if you’ve asked the employee to complete one, and I hope you have. Read the employee’s answers aloud and ask questions about what they meant. Here’s my favorite simple self-evaluation.
If the evaluation is related to a raise or bonus, start by telling them if you’re giving them a raise or a bonus. This is an unusual way to start an evaluation, but I’ve used it in the past if the employee is unable to relax and really participate in the evaluation because they’re so worried about the raise. By the way, it’s usually the really good employees who are worried – the so-so employees tend to expect the raise and don’t worry about it. Do not start an evaluation by telling an employee you are NOT giving them a raise or a bonus.
Review continuing education that the employee completed and ask what they learned and how they implemented what they learned.
All of these suggestions give the manager the opportunity to start the evaluation on a relaxed note and engage the employee in meaningful discussion.
Note: I am excited to announce a new book from Manage My Practice coming in July 2011: “The Smart Manager’s Guide to Mastering Performance Evaluations.” Stay tuned for more details.
Here is a VERY succinct performance evaluation that I’ve used for years. Called 5 Questions, the employee completes it, submits it to the manager, then they discuss and refine it together during the evaluation interview. Here are the questions:
What goals did you accomplish since your last evaluation (or hire)?
What goals were you unable to accomplish and what hindered you from achieving them?
What goals will you set for the next period?
What resources do you need from the organization to achieve these goals?
Based on YOUR personal satisfaction with your job (workload, environment, pay, challenge, etc.) how would you rate your satisfaction from 1 (poor) to 10 (excellent.) 12345678910
You do have to stress that question #5 is not how well they think they’re doing their job, but how satisfied they are with the job.
The great thing about this evaluation is that it’s one piece of paper and not too intimidating. Staff can use phrases or sentences and write as little or as much as they like. If it’s hard to get a conversation going with the employee, ask them “What was your thought process when you assigned your job satisfaction a number __.” Usually that opens the flood gates!
If you use a goal-oriented evaluation like this one, you’ll find that employees will grasp that you are asking for their performance to be beyond the day-to-day tasks, and to focus on learning new skills, teaching others, creative thinking and problem-solving and new solutions for efficiency and productivity.
For help with job performance words and phrases, click here.