Who’s Really Writing Your Performance Appraisal

Employee EvaluationThe best leaders I know have one song stuck in their head as they enter performance appraisal season.

“I can’t get no satisfaction?  Nope

“You can’t always get what you want?”  I sure hope not.

I see them humming, that old Christmas classic,  “Do you Hear What I Hear?”

Where The Input Begins

Great performance appraisals are not written in a vacuum.

Chances are your boss is looking from a good bit of input into your performance appraisal.

Great leaders know they only have one perspective.

They go for more, and ask around.  Hopefully, that starts with you.  Here’s your chance to influence the situation.  There are at least four places your manager is looking to for input.


The tangible results are the most important part of the performance appraisal.  You are in a position to highlight some of your key accomplishments.   Hopefully you had a performance agreement, or list of goals and measures you agreed to near the beginning of the year.   If not, take the lead and share tangible results with your boss.   Position it carefully as helpful input to lighten the load.

Focus on outcomes.  What is the % improvement over last year?  What is the retention and success rate of the new hires you mentored?  Avoid highlighting results that just measure activity.  “I visited 25 locations.”  “I trained 15 classes.”  It’s also fine to share some of the behind-the-scenes work your boss may have missed– particularly work you did for other workgroups or special projects.

Your Peers

A recent study by TribeHR of 20,000 employees found 85% of the recognition employees receive throughout the year comes from peers, not bosses.  And, the amount of recognition correlates to end-of-year raises.  I don’t know the ins and outs of the study, but I believe the premise.  While employees are not supposed to talk about ratings or pay, I always assume something will leak out.  It’s important that the people rated at the top are viewed as key contributors, and their peers would smile and say, ‘well deserved…that makes sense.”

Other Key Stakeholders

This is important no matter what kind of role you are in.  Are you in HR?  You boss will likely ask those you support about your style and impact.  Are you in a field job?  Your boss may go to Finance and ask how you are to work with.  No, it’s not time to go buy pumpkin cheesecakes for all your staff support.  However, it is good to know that others may be asked for input and to consider that in your interactions throughout the year.

Their Peers

Not everyone does this.  I always do.  Before anyone submits a rating, I always meet with my direct reports as a group to go through anyone being rated on either end of the performance spectrum.  It always leads to interesting dialogue about perceptions and hidden interactions.  Ideally, you do it a few times a year, so nothing new surfaces this late in the game.

You want everyone in that meeting nodding enthusiastically when your boss submits you for a top rating.

Please share, where do you look for input when you write performance appraisals?

See also:

What You Don’t Know About Getting A Raise

Stupid Feedback:  When Stupid Smarts and What To Do About It

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