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177330The last post on this blog offered some tips on how businesses and other organizations can still hold a festive office party even in today’s politically correct age. This post offers a few suggestions on another topic that typically comes up this time of year – annual performance evaluations (also known as or appraisals or reviews).

Did a performance review ever leave YOU feeling as if you were being “ambushed” or the shocked victim of a robbery, just like the Old West? Unfortunately, that happened to me on more than one occasion – and no doubt to scores of others reading this post as well.

This is often because busy managers wait until a specific time of year – like December – to conduct a performance appraisal, without giving them much of a thought the rest of the year. According to Joanne Sujansky, founder and president of KEYGroup Consulting (www.keygroupconsulting.com), an appraisal should be a review of previous discussions throughout the year. Nothing mentioned at the review time should come as a surprise to the employee.

Managers must not wait days, weeks, or even months to offer feedback to an employee – when the incident may no longer be clearly  recalled, Sujansky says. Everyone in the workplace benefits when constructive criticism is timely, not delayed.

Moral of the story: Picture yourself as an manager calling in an employee for an annual performance. Would you rather that he/she has an idea what’s coming, and be prepared for a healthy, positive discussion on what he/she is doing well, and what areas he/she could improve upon? Or would an unsuspecting employee feel like he or she was suddenly “ambushed” while riding a stagecoach or held up in the local saloon?