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Tech Talk Fundamentals of the Software Design

Employee Appraisal TipsEmployee Appraisal Tips

Conducting employee appraisals is usually one of the least favorite tasks of most managers. It is easy to understand why. Traditional one-size-fits-all appraisals bear little resemblance to the actual job requirements. One-size-fits-all employee appraisal systems use broadly defined statements to define work responsibilities. And, the rating scale is more a measure of the manager’s opinion, versus measure of actual performance.


Typical sample employee appraisal phrases:


To what degree an employee demonstrates the ability to interact in a clear and logical manner, using verbal and written communication skills.


Demonstrates the ability to inspire others to achieve higher goals and business objectives.

A typical rating scale - 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

  1. Unacceptable
  2. Needs Development
  3. Meets Expectations
  4. Exceeds Expectations
  5. Walks On Water

The traditional appraisal rating scale actually increases appraisal bias. The result of traditional employee appraisal forms is more opinion poll than performance measure. Unfortunately, some organizations avoid reviewing performance all together. They resort to across-the-board raises that actually increase costs and tacitly reinforce mediocrity throughout the organization. Most managers do the best they can to make the traditional “finger in the wind” appraisal process relevant and fair.

Here are some tips to making traditional employee appraisal methods more relevant and accurate.

Effective “Human Factors" appraisal forms eliminate rating bias with job specific performance criteria coupled with a behaviorally anchored rating scale. This ensures pay and promotions are based on meritocracy.

Sample “job specific” appraisal phrases:


  • Asks for and includes other people’s ideas into plans, problem solutions, and assignments resulting in measurable improvements to critical organization success factors.
  • Independently disciplines, documents and/or redirects staff according to HR guidelines and corporate policy.
  • Independently ensures the performance range between the top performer and the lowest performer is no more than 15%.

Customer Service

  • Independently and accurately provides customer’s directions to all service points, e.g. location, contact person, etc. as well as information on all assigned products and services.
  • Ensures customer information is accurately recorded in client files and related documents within established deadlines.

Create behavioral anchors for your rating scale

A simple exercise can increase the accuracy and fairness of the one-size-fits-all employee appraisal process. A pre-appraisal meeting is set up to review performance characteristics (behavior indicators) defining rating scale criteria. Through an open discussion, managers agree on consistent ways to interpret performance ratings.

Employee Appraisal Tips

Once relative consistency is achieved, each manager is asked to describe the behaviors they would associate with each rating on the rating scale. The facilitator should make sure everyone clearly understands the difference between an opinion and a behavior before proceeding with the exercise. After everyone is finished, the group compares their examples. Using consistent examples from the discussion, the rating scale can be defined using behavioral anchors to help managers calibrate their scoring on an employee appraisal template.

Managers and employees receiving above-average performance should be rewarded accordingly. Rewarding performance is the only way to sustain full employee engagement. However, managers rating staff members above average may be asked to provide measurable evidence justifying an above-average score. This simple exercise reduced above-average ratings in one financial organization from 62.2% to 22% in one performance cycle.

Performance Path® takes the employee appraisal format one step further, by linking a behavioral-anchored rating scale with stages of employee development that result in a “Human Factors” rating scale. The “Human Factors” rating scale enables managers to select the best practice coaching strategy that matches employee development, maximizing employee skill and initiative.

“Human Factors” appraisals improve communication between manager and employee, both during and after the appraisal period. Developmental planning and behavioral coaching are more likely to be successful when the manager and employee are rewarded for their efforts. The performance review shifts from focusing on the pay plan to achieving performance goals. Managers and employees begin thinking like owners. Over time a culture of achievement replaces the culture of entitlement.

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