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What are My Boss’s Responsibilities in the Performance Assessment Phase?

Does she have to review and approve my appraisals before I deliver them to my staff?

In the performance assessment phase, the reviewer—the supervisor’s supervisor—has a specific set of responsibilities. The primary ones are to:

  • Ensure timely completion of performance reviews.
  • Ensure fair, thorough, and complete reviews.
  • Ensure inter-rater reliability.
  • Ensure tough-minded, demanding performance standards are set.
  • Coach appraisers for success.

Tell Me More

The reviewer is the individual who is responsible for reviewing performance appraisals written by his or her subordinate managers before they go over those appraisals with their employees. If you are a manager who not only has to write appraisals but also has to review those written by managers who report to you, here are the key responsibilities that you need to meet in your reviewer role:

Ensure timely completion of performance reviews. Your first responsibility is to make sure that all managers in your work unit complete their performance appraisals on time. Enough said.

Ensure fair, thorough, and complete reviews. While the people whose performance reviews you’ll be reviewing don’t work directly for you, you probably know all of them reasonably well. Do the appraisals that their managers have written conform with your feelings about how well they have done? Are all aspects of their performance covered? Does it appear that any personal biases—positive or negative—are creeping in? If so, discuss these with the appraisal writer.

Ensure inter-rater reliability. Are all of your managers applying the same standards to their people? Does one manager put more emphasis on competencies than another? Your job here is to make sure that an individual who performed at a certain level will get the same performance appraisal rating, whether the appraisal is written by manager A, manager B, or manager C.

Ensure tough-minded, demanding performance standards are set. Now your job gets harder. Are some of your managers more lenient or tougher than others? Unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary, the standards of the toughest appraiser in your work group should set the tone for all managers charged with doing performance appraisals.

Red Flag

It’s very likely that different managers have different performance expectations and standards. Some are likely to be tough and demanding while others are pushover pussycats. It’s an easy temptation for the reviewer to coax the more demanding managers to soften their standards (‘‘Gee, Jim, you seem to be pretty hard on Harry’’). It is more difficult to force reluctant raters into holding people’s feet to the high-performance fire (‘‘Diane, your people are putting forth any level of effort that they feel like and you’re not holding them accountable’’). It’s more difficult to raise performance standards than it is to lower them, but—hey, pal—that’s why you’re the boss!

Coach appraisers for success. Once you have reviewed and approved the written performance appraisals your managers have written, be sure to review their plans for conducting the appraisal discussion. It’s likely that some of your managers may never have delivered a performance appraisal before. Help them succeed by coaching them on your experience or engaging in a practice session.