Performance Evaluations

What is the most common reason that performance evaluations lead to lawsuits? Not what you think. I’m Amy E. Feldman. 

The city council in East Cambridgeshire, England made headlines because it changed its performance evaluations after its HR Department found the word “satisfactory” to be demoralizing and suggested supervisors use the word “good” instead. One wonders if they’ll also change the word “fail” to “fine”.   In that case, they should change the word “evaluation” to “praise” or “useless” or maybe even “lawsuit”.

If you’re giving a review, remember that the reason evaluations are frequently cited in lawsuits isn’t because they’re too negative, but because they’re too positive. If you want to fire someone after years of giving good reviews, it tends to look like you’re basing your decision on something other than their performance. Don’t be mean, but be honest even if it’s not flattering by comparing the job expectations to the work the employee is submitting so she isn’t confused when the “good work” leads to termination.

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