People Management 3. Informal Reviews: Conducting a Performance Check-Up

An informal review provides an interim, off-the-record assessment of performance during the middle of an appraisal period.  Managers usually provide the informal review in a formally scheduled meeting.  The manager documents the meeting with private notes that are included in the manager’s files, but not the worker’s files.

An informal review helps prevent surprises at the formal appraisal, alerts the worker to any perceived performance problems while the worker still has time to correct them, and provides the worker with ongoing feedback on strengthening performance.

For employees on a six-month appraisal period, managers typically schedule an informal review at three months. For those on a one-year appraisal period, managers might schedule an informal review at six months. For employees who prefer more frequent feedback, the manager might schedule informal reviews at four and eight months.

Managers conduct the review in a scheduled meeting. Although managers should prepare comments in advance, feedback is provided off the record.

During an informal review, the manager goes through the performance plan and indicates how well the worker is currently meeting expectations. Some managers feel comfortable telling workers, “If I were to appraise you today, I would appraise you as…” while others prefer not to make such a commitment. Managers might also suggest strengths and areas for improvement.

Although these reviews are informal and technically off the record, managers should take them seriously all the same. Managers should initiate the meetings with workers and make every attempt to keep the appointments. Rescheduling a review subliminally tells the worker that the informal review is not important.

Managers should also schedule informal reviews with long-time workers. Because of personal history and familiarity with one anothers’ work, both managers and workers might choose to skip the informal review. But performance changes, and so do perceptions of it. Continued communication helps managers and workers learn of changes before a formal appraisal, and with sufficient time to address them.

© Copyright 1998, 2001, 2010, 2011, 2012. Saul Carliner. All rights reserved.  If sharing or excerpting, should be properly cited.


About idmodelsandprocesses

Exploring, reporting, teaching, and advising on learning and communication for the workplace and consumers.
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