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Should We Provide Managers with Samples of Completed Appraisal?

Should we provide managers with samples of completed appraisal forms that they can use as models when they have to prepare performance appraisals?

Yes. This is one of the most effective ways to help managers do a good job. Surprisingly, only a small number of companies provide their managers with this high-payoff, easy-to-prepare aid.

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The best way to create sample performance appraisal forms is for a human resources specialist who is an expert in performance management to work together with an operating manager who is an expert on the job for which the sample appraisal form is being created.

Working together, the two of them should create a complete performance appraisal form for an imaginary employee at different levels of performance. In choosing the job for which the sample form will be constructed, be careful to choose one that provides a reasonable degree of challenge. Too often, when companies do prepare sample appraisal forms for managers to review, they pick jobs like secretary or human resources representative that are easy to describe and easy to explain. It’s more helpful to managers to choose jobs that are more complex and sophisticated as examples, even though this will make the task of constructing the sample performance appraisal more difficult.

After the performance management expert and the subject matter expert have drafted a sample performance appraisal form, circulate it to managers and to people who actually hold the job that is being used as the example. Ask them whether they would come to the same conclusions about the performance ratings based on the data and examples in the completed example.

Red Flag

If the example constructed by the performance management expert and the subject matter expert is one of an excellent performer who does a fine job but gets the organization’s middle rating, it’s likely that reviewers will object, saying that they would have rated the performance higher. That’s a good sign that ratings inflation is a problem in the organization. One of the more subtle but effective ways of toughening up raters’ standards is to publish examples of excellent performers who receive appropriate fully successful ratings.

Hot Tip

In addition to producing samples of performance appraisals at the fully successful level, it’s a great benefit to managers to be able to see appraisal forms that have been written to describe marginal or unsatisfactory performance. Too often, performance appraisal examples focus on people who do an excellent job. Although the majority of people in an organization may do an excellent job, that is not the group that managers need help with in sharpening their appraisal skills. Giving them examples of the written assessments of poor performers not only increases their ability to write similar appraisals, but also sends a message that this is what the organization expects them to do.