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Podcast: Best Ways to Avoid Performance Review Blunders

On this podcast, Philadelphia employment attorney Jonathan Segal joins XpertHR Legal Editor David Weisenfeld to discuss what's wrong with the annual performance review process and how to fix it. Segal is managing principal of the Duane Morris Institute and a popular speaker at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conferences.

While some have called for abolishing annual performance reviews altogether, Segal is not among them. "We should fix it [the process] rather than nix it," he said. "There is a lot of checking off boxes and writing comments, but no conversation." If employers focus more on performance development and have a dialogue where a manager tells employees where they can grow, the process is far more likely to increase engagement.

Segal is no fan of forced rankings or an "assembly-line approach" to performance reviews to keep pay raises in line. "If everyone is knocking it out of the park, a manager shouldn't be limited to saying everyone is meeting expectations," said Segal. But conversely, he advises employers not to say employees are meeting or exceeding expectations when they are not.

"Tell it like it is! Be direct but also respectful," he recommends. If a manager does not mention something during a review to avoid conflict, and then has to terminate the employee six months later for performance-related reasons, Segal notes that will make litigation more likely rather than less. By the same token, he warns managers never to attack an employee or use words that are personal, such as "abrasive" or rigid."

Additional Resources

Performance Appraisals - Supervisor Briefing

Handling Difficult Conversations - Supervisor Briefing

Performance Appraisals: Federal