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Performance reviews may not be anyone’s favorite time of year, but it’s an essential process in the manager/employee relationship. The review process can be anxiety-inducing and nerve-wracking, even if you know where you stand.

It can be difficult on the other side of the table, too. Managers must walk a fine line when giving employee feedback. Everyone wants to know what they’ve done well, but it’s important to provide constructive criticism. Performance review comments should be fair and balanced.

Tell Your Employees What They’ve Done Right

Think about your work history. You don’t want people only to remember your mistakes, do you? You’re willing to take responsibility for them, but you’d hate for people to only focus on what you did incorrectly.

Surveys have shown that employees who receive positive feedback regularly are more engaged in their work than those who only get negative feedback. The best way to do this without sounding like favoritism or blowing smoke is to focus on the employee’s work’s tangible effects across the organization. Some areas to discuss include:

  • time management
  • productivity
  • attitude
  • proactivity
  • attendance

An example of this is if an employee has consistently turned in exemplary work with tight deadlines. Let them know if they exceeded expectations by completing projects before the deadline without sacrificing quality. If she’s always willing to help out and makes her coworkers feel like they can always count on her, tell her how everyone appreciates her. If his cool-as-a-cucumber demeanor quells anxiety and helps everyone stay calm during stressful situations, that’s a perfect thing to mention in your performance review comments.

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The bottom line is to make sure employees know how their work ethic impacts the organization with concrete examples.

Constructive Criticism Can Be Tricky But Is Necessary

The other side of this is letting employees know how they can improve. This can be a minefield because you don’t want anyone to feel like they’re being personally attacked. You can discuss the same areas mentioned above; just be sure to have concrete examples along with ways they can do better.

For example, if an employee is chronically late, rather than saying something like “you always arriving late is an issue,” explain why it is an issue in their performance review comments. If their lateness causes them to miss deadlines or interrupt important meetings, inform them that their tardiness holds up projects and affects the rest of their day.

It may help to ask them why this is happening. Perhaps they don’t have access to childcare until a specific time, or they consistently run into traffic that they could avoid if their start time were moved up. Work together to come up with a solution.

Performance Review Comments Help Employees Grow Performance reviews don’t have to ruin your day. When done correctly, they help employees grow and strengthen the employee-manager relationship. The excellent performance review comments let people know how their excellent work impacts others and helps them find ways to improve, so they remain successful.

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