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Dos and don'ts at review time
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By Maryann Post

PERSONNEL POWER

For employers, performance reviews are critical tools for measuring the extent to which an employee's performance meets the requirements of their position. Employers also use performance reviews to help to establish goals, open channels of communication, and strengthen the relationship between employer and employee.

Some employees, however, perceive that performance reviews are sessions in which every mistake made in the past review period is dissected and analyzed, that unrealistic goals will be set, and that meaningless promises will be made regarding future performance.

Employers and employees often have conflicting opinions about the purpose of performance reviews, which can mean that they can present a significant legal and administrative challenge to supervisors and HR departments.

In order to bridge any gap between interpretations, performance reviews should be straightforward, fair, accurate and timely. They should reward star performers, provide encouragement to borderline workers, and give proper feedback to those whose work needs improvement.

THE DOS

Effective performance reviews include three key elements:

1. Clear identification of job standards

2. Consistent, objective measurement of the extent to which those standards are being met

3. The opportunity for clarification and/or feedback

CLEAR IDENTIFICATION OF JOB STANDARDS

Before employers can fairly determine whether an employee possesses the knowledge and competencies to perform his or her job responsibilities, those responsibilities must be clearly defined and communicated to the employee.

A written job description is helpful, but cannot be the basis of a fair performance evaluation unless the employee is aware of the description and of the expectations that flow from it. job descriptions should describe the basic responsibilities of the position in a clear and understandable language, and should specifically list any skills or areas of expertise that are essential to the job.

Failure to include such information could be the basis of an employee's argument that he or she did not fully understand the scope of the job responsibilities, and was therefore unfairly evaluated. This description should be provided to an employee at the start of employment, and when any substantive revisions are made to the job description for any reason.

In addition to providing a job description and appropriate updates, an employer should use the job description as a reference point during the performance review. Such use adds an element of objectivity to the review process and provides a relevant basis from which to approach a fair evaluation.

MEASUREMENTS TO DOCUMENT PERFORMANCE



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