Assessing Employee Performance in 6 Simple Steps

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "High Output Management" by Andrew S. Grove. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Are there good methods for assessing employee performance? How can you determine performance as a manager?

Assessing employee performance is an important part of your managerial duties. Since you will regularly have to assess performance, you’ll need a system for doing this and communicating it.

Read more about assessing employee performance and how it works.

Assessing Employee Performance

Once you’ve established your expectations:

1. Don’t ask the review’s recipient to write a self-review for you to reference because:

  • If you give her the same feedback she provided you with, she’ll feel cheated.
  • She’ll feel like you weren’t paying enough attention to her—if you had been paying attention, you’d have enough content for the review on your own.
  • Her review might sway you.

2. Gather data on the recipient’s performance by collecting meeting notes, progress reports, and so on.

3. On a blank sheet of paper, write down every thought you have about the recipient’s performance. Don’t edit them or order them by importance; just write down your stream of consciousness.

4. Once you’ve finished, look for broad themes. Probably, you’ll see evidence that the person does the same actions in various contexts. 

  • (Shortform example: If one of your subordinates always hands her reports in late, there’s a good chance that she also misses other deadlines.)

Don’t focus on potential or appearances because it doesn’t matter how professional someone acts or how good she could be—for example, if the recipient is a manager and her team doesn’t perform, her performance is flawed.

5. Call these themes “messages” and make a list of them. Then, support the messages with examples from your worksheet. (Ideally, none of your messages are surprising because you monitor the recipient and provide guidance regularly. If you do discover something you weren’t expecting that might appear to the person as coming out of left field, include it anyway: They need to know about it to improve their performance.) 

6. If the list of messages is too long for the recipient to remember, cut the less critical ones. You can probably mention them in a future review.

These five steps can help you with assessing employee performance, and setting your own system.

Assessing Employee Performance in 6 Simple Steps

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  • How to increase your managerial output and productivity
  • The 11 activities that offer a higher impact on output
  • How meetings can be used as a time management tool

Carrie Cabral

Carrie has been reading and writing for as long as she can remember, and has always been open to reading anything put in front of her. She wrote her first short story at the age of six, about a lost dog who meets animal friends on his journey home. Surprisingly, it was never picked up by any major publishers, but did spark her passion for books. Carrie worked in book publishing for several years before getting an MFA in Creative Writing. She especially loves literary fiction, historical fiction, and social, cultural, and historical nonfiction that gets into the weeds of daily life.

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