How to Conduct and Write a Negative Performance Review
October 13th, 2022
Performance reviews are essential tools to help employees understand how they are performing in their current roles. In addition, these reviews often provide feedback and insights into where an employee is highly skilled and where they need to make improvements. But some of the performance reviews are harder than the other ones, especially the negative ones. So if you are here, we just assume that you already know the value of conducting regular performance reviews to lead to a more efficient and successful team, and you are basically ready to learn the proper way to handle the tougher performance reviews.
It is no surprise that performance reviews are highly stressful and awkward. These negative feelings are typically mutual between both parties. Performance evaluations are not just nerve-racking for the employee but also for the employer that has to give feedback.
These reviews become even harder to complete when they are based on more negative than positive feedback to an underperforming team member. Unfortunately, sometimes a manager has no other choice but to give his or her employee a poor review to bring out the best out of them, or find out what causes the low level performance. The good news is that this article will teach you EVERYTHING you need to know about the dos and don'ts of giving and writing a negative review.
What is a Negative Performance Review?
A negative performance review occurs when an employee's professional performance does not match the pre-set standards and expectations of their company. Best-in-class companies define each competency and skill required for an employees role as well as the expected behaviors within each competency. When employees are given definitive examples of what good and bad performance looks like, company feedback is able to highlight competencies areas and behaviors that are not in line with expectations. The poor performance review can serve as constructive guidance on how the employee can better align their behaviors with company goals.
There are assorted reasons why you may feel you should give your employee a less than a positive review. Still, it will ALWAYS be based on their professional performance.
For example, you may have an employee who
▶︎ Lacks practical communication skills, and this leads to misunderstanding and delayed responses
▶︎ Has the inability to complete their assigned projects on time
▶︎ Does not exhibit the skills required to complete tasks involved in their role
▶︎ Has difficulty showing up on time or misses an extensive amount of the workweek
▶︎ Has the inability to work collaboratively / not being a team player
▶︎ Not being a good coach or mentor for the junior roles
What is the Importance of Giving a Negative Performance Review?
Some might find giving a bad performance review far too uncomfortable to follow through on. However, it is incredibly important to understand that unfavorable reviews are just as essential, if not even more so, as positive ones are.
These less-than-exciting reviews can act as immensely beneficial guides to employees with many weaknesses they need to improve on. Additionally, when given correctly, a poor performance review can lead to the building of new skills, higher productivity, career advancements, and even feelings of encouragement.
How to Give a Bad Performance Review
There are some things that you should avoid while conducting a performance review. Learning to give a professional and well-rounded review in performance review period is necessary when being a leader for your company and your team. Although it may seem challenging, learning the proper techniques is possible and will leave you feeling more confident in the message you are displaying to your employee. So, what should you do? Here are some specific examples:
Provide a Self-Evaluation to Your Employees as a Performance Improvement Plan
Before the meeting, give your employee a self-assessment. This will prepare them for the topics you plan to review and allow them time to begin thinking about their performance. In addition, a self evaluation also offers you the opportunity to understand how they already gauge their work and will help you narrow down where your focus should be and what issues you should discuss.
Maintain a Positive and Encouraging Attitude Even During a Negative Review
The LAST thing you want to do is make your employee feel more uncomfortable with the situation. So, when providing negative feedback, keep it factual and NEVER speculate. Remember, criticism is already a fear your reviewee most likely has, so maintain a positive environment to ease some of their worries.
One way to maintain a positive environment is to offer advice. You want your criticism to be constructive, NOT destructive. Inform your employee on how they can go about making improvements in their current role. As a manager, you should offer support and guidance to those who are struggling.
Incorporate Some Positive Feedback on Performance Reviews
Although a negative review is mainly focused on what the employee needs to work on, there is no reason you shouldn't be giving them some positive feedback as well. You should always remember to touch on their achievements and valued skills. Providing employees with a clear understanding of their overall performance targets can greatly benefit their performance improvements.
For example, even if a project wasn't turned in on time, you should still compliment the quality of their work. It is important to note where their strengths are and recognize what they bring to the company. Positive feedback will minimize any discouraging feelings they are having during the review.
Allow for the Reviewee to Share Their Side of Things
You may spend most of the meeting telling your employee about their flaws and weaknesses. Although their shortcomings may drastically affect you and the rest of the company, you should always consider their side.
Keep in mind that we are all human, and we have good and bad months. That said, be sure to allow your employee to have an open line of communication where they can feel free to express their concerns. While also having the option to explain why they haven't been meeting expectations.
Addressing Emotional Responses and Managing Conflict
Addressing emotional responses and managing conflict is a crucial aspect of conducting a review. It's natural for employees to feel defensive or upset when receiving negative feedback, and it's important to approach the conversation with empathy and understanding. Creating a safe environment for the employee to express their emotions and concerns can help to alleviate tension and promote performance improvement. Additionally, addressing emotional wellbeing during the review process can have a positive impact on the employee's overall job satisfaction and engagement. However, it's also important to be clear about the areas where the employee needs to improve, particularly for poor performers, and provide actionable steps for how they can achieve their goals. By handling emotional responses and conflicts effectively, managers can facilitate a more productive and positive performance review process.
Common Phrases to Use When Giving a Bad Review
When you have completed your 1:1 review, you will need to create a write-up that documents all issues and achievements among your employees. It is vital that you work up a clear message about your employee’s weaknesses and inadequacies.
Here are some examples to add to your detailed report to avoid assumptions and confusion:
▶︎ She is frequently late to work. In the past month, they have come tardy X number of times.
▶︎ He has difficulty communicating and does not provide timely responses.
▶︎ She works well alone but struggles to work effectively in a group.
▶︎ He struggles to differentiate between professional and personal conversations.
It is also crucial to have supporting evidence to back up your claims. One way to ensure you have the supporting statements is to use Teamble. Teamble’s tools can set you up for success by providing managers and leaders like you with the best practices of performance reviews. Created to be added to your teams or slack application, Teamble can supply an innovative and effective way to utilize performance reviews.
Teamble is designed to track an employee’s performance, allow managers to set up 1:1 meetings, and provide regular feedback to their team from their computer, tablet, or phone. With powerful templates, managers and employees can express their feedback professionally and clearly every time!