Coping with Staff Reactions to Evaluations
- The employee accepts your appraisal and
willingness to make changes toward better performance.
- For average, successful employees this reaction occurs more often
all the others.
- Some employees may express genuine surprise at some aspects of your
evaluation of their work, but their response is positive and friendly
- Employees usually respond enthusiastically when told their work is
satisfactory and you offer plans for self-improvement and growth. There
no greater motivating force than for an employee to be secure in
position and know there is an opportunity for advancement.
- Employees are likely to ask you to elaborate on any constructive
criticism you offer. This will give you a chance to discuss the whole
situation at the employee’s request.
- Most employees try to improve immediately after an evaluation. You
expect them to come back with evidence of their improvement, asking for
further suggestions and help.
- If you are frank and honest in your evaluations, you will gain a
reputation for being a "square shooter." This can be a great help
efficient, cooperative performance of normal day-to-day operations.
- Some employees may feel that the evaluation is a personal favor
their supervisor. Relationships will be smoother and closer if you show
genuine interest in helping employees see their strengths and
offer to help.
- Even successful people need frequent reassurance that their work is
satisfactory. Realize that even your best people may need to hear this
assurance from you often. Don’t assume they know their work is OK just
because there are no problems.
- The employee doesn’t agree with your
constructive criticism, has evidence to show that your evaluation is not
accurate, and disagrees constructively and unemotionally.
- Restate your position, but don’t try too hard to get the employee
accept your point of view right away.
- The employee’s disagreement with you may come from his/her personal
makeup, experience on the job, or other factors within the individual
will be difficult for you to understand at the outset.
- Expect some disagreements to be based on your personality and your
as supervisor. This should not handicap regular communication with the
employee. It is normal to have different values, motivations, outlooks,
from coworkers and still get along in the workplace.
- Listen carefully to find out why the individual does not agree.
the reliability of your own facts and their criticisms. Prepare
future discussions with additional evidence about the employee’s
- Say you will check into the matter. If necessary, ask the
about the reliability of his/her information. Have the employee think
his/her position and you do the same.
- Realize that experienced supervisors admit they often learn from
employees they are evaluating. You may have been given incorrect
about the situation and should appreciate receiving additional facts.
- Be willing to change your evaluation in light of more evidence.
Evaluations are not cast in stone. As people change, so should our
- The employee agrees completely and almost
easily. You suspect the person does not understand or is holding back
- Get the employee to restate what you said. (Example: "Jane, I’ve
talking a lot here and I may have gone too fast. Why don’t you review
what I’ve said?")
- Be sure the individual’s agreement is genuine and not a device for
complimenting you as a way to avoid accepting the need to improve. When
criticism is offered some people agree too easily thinking it will
the need to take action for improvement.
- Emphasize what is to be done about change, improvement, or
If the employee accepts your evaluation, get a strong commitment about
he/she will do about it. Also, outline how you plan to follow up on the
plans for improvement.
- The employee avoids personal blame and
of attention to others.
- Listen rather than halt the recital. If you stop the employee, you
send him/her somewhere else with the complaints.
- Remain impartial and fair-minded. Above all, don’t let the employee
that his/her irrational conduct upsets or annoys you. Do not let your
or actions convey any distress you might be feeling.
- Try to find out why the employee blames others. What inadequacy
person have that makes it impossible for him/her to accept justifiable
- Ask yourself how you can help this person to feel successful enough
that he/she will not need to use such an escape or excuse to cover up
- Directly or indirectly compliment the person for willingness to
responsibility where you find any evidence that he/she has done so.
employee realize that acceptance of blame, when accompanied by
to improve, is not a disadvantage.
- Watch carefully during future evaluations to see whether the
grows in willingness to assume responsibility for failures.
- After a few evaluations have been handled in this way, determine
the employee’s blame-avoidance is basic in his/her personality and
psychological counseling, or whether it is based on factors in the work
environment which you can help the employee recognize and change.
- Sometimes it helps to put the employee in closer contact with the
individuals or groups that are the source of dissatisfaction. Assign
employee to committees, give him/her special projects, find other ways
put him/her in closer association with capable people whose abilities
- The employee wants to quit. This is a good
and one you would like to keep.
- Ask why. The employee may not be too clear on the reasons, but
the emotional release of reviewing them will be enough. If the reason
wanting to leave is based on some failure you recognize in your unit,
prompt action to correct it. If this comes as a surprise, it may mean
you have failed to keep in close enough contact with the employee
what is going on in the unit.
- Do not be afraid to assure the employee of your respect for his/her
ability. Some employees talk of leaving only because they are not sure
are wanted in their present jobs. Even if the employee is successful,
may need the reassurance of hearing it directly from you.
- If the employee is accepting temporary advancement with some other
company in place of an ultimately better future with you, outline the
possibilities in his/her present position. Show all the advantages of
- If the employee has a better offer elsewhere and you truly wish to
retain him/her, look carefully at all the rewards/benefits of staying.
they be increased?
- Try to keep the individual from making harsh statements that will
him/her feel he/she has no alternative but to leave.
- The employee is too eager for promotion or
- If the employee insists upon immediate financial reward after a
favorable evaluation, remind him/her that financial incentives are
prohibited by state statute from being linked to performance review.
- The topic of reclassification may also surface during the review
session. However, reclassification, by definition, involves "job
Steps toward reclassification may be in order if a position has changed
permanent basis so that the assigned duties and responsibilities are of
higher level. The change must be in effect for at least six months
reclassification procedures can be initiated. Quantity and quality of
in itself, does not qualify as sole justification for reclassification.
- The insistence for immediate promotion or salary increase may be a
desire to see a tangible reward for work well done. Be sure you make
use of intangible rewards such as assignment to work on higher level
problems, release from routine operations to attend conferences or
- If too many of your employees insist upon overly rapid rewards,
you are stressing opportunity, promotion and advancement too much.
employees first to improve performance in the present job and only
secondarily to prepare for promotion. Emphasize that present success
- The employee may not deserve advancement. It is your responsibility
get the employee to see this. You might not be able to accomplish this
the first meeting.
- The employee loses his/her temper, becomes
emotional, angry, or abusive.
- Listen. Don’t argue. Don’t show disapproval.
- Be sure the employee knows that the inappropriate behavior is not a
permanent black mark against him/her. It is very important that the
leaves realizing that you still have a friendly feeling toward him/her.
your next meeting be especially cordial.
- Contact the person a few days later. If he/she is still in the same
mood, listen, don’t argue. Call back once more.
- The employee seems determined to argue and
most of your facts, evidence and opinions.
- Let the person talk freely. Listen carefully and try to find out
basically bothering him/her and what is the cause of the resistance.
- Thank the person for bringing their point of view to your
you will look into it and talk again later.
- Avoid being drawn into an argument which may arouse emotions that
block or seriously delay an understanding.
- Don’t retreat. Be sure the employee understands your point of view
your insistence upon it. Do this tactfully, moderately, without
- Close the interview tactfully. Try again when the individual is in a
better mood and after you have taken whatever constructive action is
possible about the fundamental cause of the resistance. The individual
be completely cooperative and understanding in the next interview.
- The employee is surly, not cooperative,
or just passive and unresponsive.
- Try to determine why the person acts this way. Is it normal for
Is he/she giving careful attention to what you say? Is it
Is he/she afraid to reveal his/her own attitude, or is it something
- Don’t be afraid of a certain amount of silence. Give ample time to
- Watch carefully for any sparkle of interest in what you are saying.
to get the person to talk about anything you have said that seems to
even a small response. Ask for opinions about things important to the
employee: "What do you think about thus and so?" or "What would you do
- Reassure the person early in the interview. Talk about as many of
complimentary things as you can at the outset.
- The individual may think you have a bad opinion of him/her.
- Don’t push or try to persuade too much at one sitting. The
may have a different attitude by the next sitting, and may be more
to offer insight regarding the reason(s) for the dissatisfaction.
- Some employees (especially long-service employees) may resist the
idea of evaluations or see no merit in them. Explain reasons for
and show how the individual can profit from knowing where he/she stands
from laying plans for improvement. Find out what the employee’s
- Some employees may feel that you are trying to change habits which
out of their own personal choice. They may resist discussing what they
are personal matters that are none of your business. Show them that
habits (courteousness, personal appearance, punctuality, modesty)
closely to success on the job.
- The employee is obviously nervous and
- Try harder to put the person at ease. Talk about things the
knows best and is comfortable with such as a new home, a good idea
submitted, service in a community organization, etc.
- If the employee is not participating, try to make it a two-way
communication. Ask him/her to summarize what you said as a way to get
him/her to start talking.
- Explain the purpose and constructive values that may come from the
- Don’t talk about the person; talk about the job. Begin by referring
actual work situations in which he/she has done well such as a new
he/she installed, a quality improvement, a report he/she prepared.