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on July 21, 2011
The balanced-message technique which managers are typically instructed to use for discussing performance appraisals is categorically wrong, according to Dick Grote in this book. It is a time-proven failure and the reason why people hate performance appraisals. It annoys and demotivates good performers while cheering and heartening poor performers. Instead, an effective performance review gives a single clear message, concentrating on strengths or on improvement needs.

The book contains plenty of other helpful advice, including:

* A performance appraisal is a formal record of a manager's opinion of the quality of an employee's work, so it should be drafted by the manager, not the employee.
* Performance appraisal is necessary to identify gaps in talent within the organisation, best performers who need to be the subject of retention strategies, and worst performers who should be salvaged or cut loose.
* Useful practices which are rarely used include calibration sessions to ensure consistency in appraisals, assessing how well managers do appraisals, and greater use of 360-degree feedback.
* SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) goals are a bad idea because they tend to aim too low.
* If the appraisal is a positive one, it is helpful to give it to the employee an hour before the meeting, but if the appraisal is a negative one this is not a good idea as the message should be delivered verbally.

I found the book very helpful, reasonably short, and entertaining to read. I would recommend it to anyone who has the job of conducting performance appraisals, and I would particularly recommend it to anyone who has the job of designing performance appraisals.
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on August 26, 2011
Dick Grote's book covers everything you've always wanted to know about performance appraisals, from why do them to how to conduct difficult appraisals. There's a lot here in a small, easy-to-read package.

You'll find practical information on traditional topics such as goal setting, determining job responsibilities, identifying and using competencies, coaching, and evaluating the quality of employee performance. But you'll also find some unconventional advice, such as what's wrong with defining far exceeded performance, SMART goals, and employees doing self-ratings.

What you won't find is jargon or beating around the bush. Grote comes right at you in a style that is clear, insightful, straight-forward, researched and humorous. There are sample dialogues, handy summaries after each chapter, nuances such as how to describe a small pay raise to your top performer, and of course, how to prepare and conduct performance appraisals.

Dick Grote developed these insights from his experience as a supervisor and from his many years of consulting work. When he says "Listen up" (as he does on page 9), you'd be wise to do so. While he is the first to admit that performance appraisals will always be challenging, this book should ease that challenge for any supervisor. I highly recommend it!
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on February 28, 2014
Great book. Grote lays out sound guidelines and clear practices to add value to an otherwise despised activity. Love the discussion about Prima Donnas and the feedback approach you must use in such cases. I disagree with the “no surprises myth”. Grote insists that when writing a performance appraisal the manager could find problem areas that he/she wasn’t aware of. And here is the issue. Why the manager wasn’t aware of the gap? Irremediably this mean the manager was not doing his/her job properly. In addition if I’m “surprised” by my boss in the performance review I will question him/her: “why you didn’t tell me this before?” This will downgrade my engagement with him and my job. This is the price of your “no surprises myth” policy.
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on January 27, 2016
The title says it all. The author, in a simple, straight-forward, and easy to read style lays out why performance reviews are so important, why they so often are not effective, and how to give effective feedback.
Too many supervisors don't understand what it is they are even trying to accomplish. "Listen up:" the author says in chapter 1, "A performance appraisal is a formal record of a manager's opinion of the quality of an employee's work."
The author does not hold back. His style is frank and to the point. The "performance appraisal will always be difficult." It is "strenuous and demanding," he states in the introduction. "It will always be difficult because performance appraisal requires people in supervisory jobs to do something they have always been told not to do - be judgmental of others." And with that the author begins to teach what it means to be a good manager. It is hard work. It is at times uncomfortable. It is very rewarding.
I have seen these principles put to use to benefit me, my organization, and my subordinates who look to me for leadership. I require all my managers to read and be familiar with the principles taught in this book and encourage my HR managers to train from it.
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on December 19, 2011
How to Be Good at Performance Reviews is a comprehensive, straight-shooting, useful, absolutely excellent guide to shaping your performance management system. It covers far more than just performance reviews. Dick Grote's direct, easy-to-read style and his focus on practical questions that matter for managers make this book an essential read for all managers in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. In the book, he covers everything from how to establish performance goals, to what makes for good and bad goals, to how to build a list of key competencies for your organization, to information about the importance of coaching, to essential considerations for your performance appraisals. In the appraisals section he reminds us of why appraisals are important and provides practical guidance around rating scales, structuring the appraisal, and preparing for the meeting. He highlights both commonly used practices and those more rarely used but worth considering throughout the book. As you read this book, you'll find yourself thinking about: a) who else on your team or in your organization MUST read it, and b) what you'll do next to improve your own management practices and those in your organization. ENJOY!
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on September 19, 2011
When you see the title of this book, your first thought may be about the annual performance discussion. While there is a chapter devoted to the performance discussion, this book provides a comprehensive view of the entire process of performance appraisal, an A to Z walk through all of the steps that are required to be good at doing it.

Along the way, the author addresses many of the hot topics and tough questions that surround the performance appraisal process. For example, how do you identify good measures of job performance to use in evaluating how an employee performed? Or, what is the best approach to take in discussing an employee's strengths and weaknesses?

The author gives clear recommendations on what the manager should and shouldn't do at each step of the appraisal process. And, the reader gets the benefit of the author's reasoning regarding each such recommendation. That will be helpful in evaluating your (and your organization's) approach to performance appraisal, and in determining your own actions at each step.

The book is concise and readable, and it should help just about any manager to do a better job of performance appraisal.
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on August 1, 2011
When I saw Dick Grote had a new book out, I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon and it came promptly. I read it over the weekend and ordered five copies yesterday for my staff. As an HR professional with over 30 years of experience, I think the book is the best, most comprehensive, readable book on the subject yet.
by Elizabeth Matoy, Stillwater, Oklahoma
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on March 3, 2016
I found this book good guidance for me as a new manager doing performance reviews to a department that had never received them before--even after working at the same company for many years. I especially liked the section on the actual face-to-face review.
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on May 18, 2015
Very good book. I have purchased a copy for each of our Managers. I found the role playing segments particularly useful for Managers who struggle with communication in performance sessions. I personally liked the advice to not mix the bad with the good "sandwich". If they have done a good job, stick with the "good". If not, then stick with the "bad" and need for improvement. Don't confuse people.
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on May 25, 2014
Clear and concise, an excellent guide to developing performance culture. This is no lazy guide to sandwich performance appraisals. This book shoes you how to tell it like it is and make it motivating.
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