6 Surefire Ways to Conduct the Worst Performance Appraisal Ever

Everyone makes mistakes, including during performance reviews. Despite the fact they are supposed to help solve issues in the workplace, individually and team-oriented on a grander scale, managers sometimes make these 6 mistakes during the appraisal.

Unfortunately, these erroneous habits can make for the worst performance appraisal ever. Don’t worry though, there is a bright side… we’ve given you ways to correct these blunders and turn them into your own performance appraisal best practices.


#1 – You’re as non-specific as you can be.

Probably because you didn’t prepare enough for the performance appraisal with that particular employee, the review wasn’t specific to projects, goals met, or the like. Only 15% of adult learning comes from formal training, whereas a majority comes from work-related feedback. [1] In order for your employees to develop professionally, they need performance reviews to be specific.

Remedy: Look over employee records and performance before each review in order to give clear, concise and targeted feedback.

#2 – What happened to the rest of the year?

Well, perhaps not the entire year… it all depends on how often you hold performance reviews and how well you track your team’s performance. A well-rounded performance appraisal doesn’t focus on the most recent events, rather it pinpoints all of the employee’s actions that are applicable in between each review. In a previous article we stated that performance reviews are:

“Often seen as the dreaded formality, one of the biggest problems is that they don’t know what they are expected to do. It is your job to ensure they understand how not only their work currently affects the organization, but how they will bring value in the future.”

Telling your employees what is expected of them between performance reviews will help you to gauge their performance at the time of the appraisal.

Remedy: Keep a record of performance between reviews so you have a better understanding of how the employee met (or didn’t meet) standards.

#3 – No one is perfect all the time.

Employees know they’ve made mistakes in between performance reviews, so it can be frustrating for them when you only praise the positive. In fact, 57% of employees want constructive criticism and corrective feedback. [2] Moreover, it can be detrimental to overall performance in the long run as they produce results that are subpar because you didn’t make an effort to correct the behavior.

Remedy: Even if an employee performed well, give them pointers in areas where they can perform even better.

#4 – You don’t confront problems when they need attention.

Many managers don’t like performance reviews because confrontation can be rather uncomfortable. However, as rough as it may be to give constructive feedback over praise, your employees need it. Employees are likely to respond to corrective feedback as 72% of employees said this criticism is most helpful in their career. [3]

Remedy: Organizations can offer training to managers to better prepare them for providing negative feedback they would rather not give.


#5 – You dominated!

Unfortunately, no, I don’t mean you did really well conducting the performance appraisal. You dominated the conversation. Employees want a hand in their own growth and in goal development. Currently, 67% of executives make the correlation between linking employee goals to company goals as a driver of employee engagement. [4] So, take this opportunity during the performance appraisal to make that connection in the eyes of your employees through open discussion.

Remedy: Allow the solutions portion of the performance appraisal – or the entire thing – to be a two-way conversation to involve the employee in their own development.

#6 – You’re not perfect either.

With all of your managerial training or your natural aptitude to guide your team, it might not align to the needs of your employees quite like they would hope. Each employee is different and has a different learning style. It’s important, as a manager, to relay important information to each employee in the way they learn best so they can succeed and maintain or increase performance levels across the board.

Remedy: Ask your employees what they would like from you as a leader so team growth becomes a collaborative effort.

Performance reviews can be difficult for you and your employees. Criticism can be hard to take and hard to give if it’s not done properly. However, be specific and thorough during performance appraisals so your employees understand their performance goals and what they need to do to hit them before the next review. Let your employees have a hand in their own development as you guide them with specific points of success and missteps between each performance appraisal. Take these 6 mistakes and learn from them… your employees will appreciate it.

Ready to change your take on performance appraisals? See why it’s all in the delivery.



[1] – CNBC.com – 7 tips for your performance review

[2] – Harvard Business Review – Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Give

[3] – Harvard Business Review – Your Employees Want the Negative Feedback You Hate to Give

[4] – HBR.org – The Impact of Employee Engagement on Performance

Download: Conduct Effective Performance Reviews

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