It has always seemed to me to be unfair for a person to work an entire year and then, with no previous warning, be told during a performance review that his or her work or attitude has been less than outstanding.

To overcome this problem and to use the performance review as a developmental tool, I started a quarterly oral review program for my unit in the Air Force. The supervisor filled out the performance form the way he normally would for an official review. Then he sat down with the employee and explained his or her rating. He explained what it would take to bring each category up to outstanding levels, and then offered advice on the steps that could be taken for the needed improvement.

After the interview, the rating form was filed until the next quarterly review was due. At that time, the supervisor read it over before doing the new review to determine if progress had been made on those items that had been discussed earlier.

When the time came for the official annual review, both the supervisor and the employee knew almost exactly what would be said, and no problems developed.

EDITOR-NOTE:

The author replies: I agree. Employee evaluations should be a two-way street, ideally nothing more than the formal version of what goes on every day between a boss and an employee. But the idea of asking people to do their own evaluations and then compare notes with the boss strikes me as asking for trouble. Even top performers get nervous before their evaluations. Why add another worry?

Even in a session in which the boss does most of the reviewing, there is still ample opportunity for the employee to respond to, elaborate on, or disagree with the observations. But if people are busy defending their positions, they are less apt to absorb the comments the manager has to offer.

Ellen Kolton