Q: My boss doesn’t like to do annual employee reviews, so she doesn’t take very much time with them and just tells us we’re all ‘doing a good job.’ She says she doesn’t like being ‘put on the spot,’ but we really would like to know her honest thoughts on our performance. What can we do?

A: Several employees that I speak with have the same challenge. They want to be evaluated, but their bosses are reluctant to take the time or fear being critical. However, both issues can be resolved with a detailed evaluation form and the right approach.

It starts with a uniform process. All performance evaluations should be done using a consistent form and handled in a consistent manner. The form should have sections for personal attributes, job skills and goal achievement.

The personal attributes section could include an evaluation of the employee’s attitude, dependability, communication, teamwork, organization and so forth.

Job skills might include sections that focus on traits such as time management, efficiency, safety, job knowledge and such.

Providing a section that includes goal achievement helps remind the employee of specific targets and his or her role within each goal.

But regardless of the categories that you create, the review form should evaluate the duties listed on the employee’s job description.

The best rating system for evaluations seems to be one that includes the following three categories: 1) exceeds expectations, 2) meets expectations, and 3) does not meet expectations. The baseline goal should be for the employee to “meet expectations.”

This is preferable to numeric systems (which are not meaningful) or rating systems that use poor, fair, good, excellent (those are too personal). 

Using job expectations as the performance measure focuses more on the duties than the person. It’s also much easier for the manager who is concerned about seeming to be judgmental.

Even though performance reviews can include some criticism, the vast majority of employees want to go through the process. They want to have a private discussion with their boss that focuses on them and them alone. They feel the chance to have the undivided attention of their supervisor is worth the risk of hearing some negative comments.

Encourage your boss to review the evaluation system, and let her know that you are willing to take the bad with the good.  For sample evaluation forms and more information, send an e-mail to don@dontyler.com .

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN47983or e-mail to don@dontyler.com.

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.