Our recent site analytics reveal that Flow users have been searching for the phrase “2600.” In the past month, we’ve had over 70 unique searches for variations of the term. At first, none of us around the office knew what “2600” meant…. Are Flow users looking for information on the long-running hacker quarterly? Or searching for books and videos on the beloved video game console?
Neither of those, it turns out. In fact, they’re looking for help on everyone’s favorite annual ritual: performance evaluations. Specifically, they’re searching for a book in Flow titled 2600 Phrases for Effective Performance Reviews, which is exactly what you think it is—copypasta for evaluations.
Whether for your boss, your employees, or (perhaps worst of all) yourself, this is the time of year when you’re likely to be writing a professional evaluation of some kind. If you’re like us, you could probably use some help. We’ve put together a list of 5 bits of advice so that we can all stop stressing about it.
As you’d expect, this chapter suggests phases related to communications skills, for example: “cultivates a culture of openness in information sharing.” Even if you don’t care for the exact phrases, they can help you generate ideas. It’s easy to imagine how a single phrase can generate a more substantial paragraph about, say, how you or your employee needs to improve on communication across departments in order to achieve certain OKRs (see next suggestion).
Setting goals for the upcoming year is one of the challenges of writing evaluations. You usually want to set goals that are measurable and realistic, but also challenging. If you use a tool such as Google Analytics to track and help analyze data about your sites and products, you probably have a few key metrics that you care most about. This chapter describes how to align those key performance indicators (KPIs) with the objectives and key results (OKRs) of your organization, which can help you create your goals for 2014.
Once you write your appraisals, you have to deliver the results. Many managers have a hard time with this part of the process, especially if they have to deliver negative reviews. This chapter on performance reviews takes you step by step through the best things to say to your employee. Sections such as “Giving and Receiving Feedback,” “Acknowledging Good Work,” and “Learning from Challenges” include questions that you can use as a guide (or use word for word, if you’re really stuck). More generally, this book dives into the psychology of appraisals, which can be surprisingly helpful.
We wish we had read this succinct, practical, smart section years ago. The advice found here is useful for anyone who finds herself needing to evaluate and help improve another’s actions and motivations, be it a manager or an employee who is looking to “manage up.” The section starts by identifying ways in which feedback is typically delivered and how those methods fall short, before arguing for a superior approach. From there, the section describes how this approach works well regardless of the format of the evaluation. A subsequent section on self-assessment is equally useful.
While writing a performance evaluation, you may find yourself evaluating your career more generally. Maybe it’s time to make a change? Writing a resume might be the only thing worse than writing a performance evaluation, and this chapter provides examples to make it easier. Even if you’re not interested in updating your resume, the chapter includes tutorials for how to improve your writing more generally. We especially like the tips on how to write concisely.
Do you have a favorite resource for writing performance evaluations? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.