Tips for Writing Your Manager Review

Preparing to Write Your Manager Review

  • Review your employee's completed Performance Conversations.
  • Brainstorm a list of the employee’s successes and challenges. 
  • Don’t just respond to what the employee wrote.  
  • Prioritize the list of accomplishments and challenges, including ones the employee included and ones they may not have.

Writing Your Manager Review

Focus on the Work 

  • Address what is observable about outcomes, behaviors, and tasks
    • Do not reference health or personal circumstances. 
  • Describe how the performance has met or has not met expectations
  • Be direct and accountable by using "I" statements
    • "I have noticed..."
    • "I have observed..."
  • Be specific, not global or broad, about the gaps (positive and negative) between performance and expectations
    • "I have noticed your skills are excellent" = global/broad
    • "I have noticed your time management skills are excellent.  During that project, those skills helped you and the team reach the goals ahead of schedule." = specific

Avoid Common Pitfalls

  • Contrast Error: evaluating compared to another rather than based on the requirements of the job. 
  • Recency Effect: tendency to give extra weight to what you have seen recently and diminish the importance of earlier observations. The exception would be cases where earlier performance has been improved upon. 
  • Halo Effect: generalizing from one aspect of positive performance to all aspects of performance. 
  • Devil Effect: generalizing from one or two negative aspects of performance and becoming blind to the positive aspects of the performance. 
  • Similar-to-me Effect: the tendency to judge more favorably those people who do things like you do.

“How to Plan, Conduct and Write a Performance Review.” Perfect Phrases for Performance Reviews: Hundreds of Ready-to-Use Phrases for Describing Employee Performance, by Douglas Max and Robert Bacal, McGraw-Hill, 2011, pp. 10–11.


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