Negative Evaluation Requires the Right Touch by Manager

Article excerpt

Savvy managers can prevent employees from becoming angry or explosive over a negative employee evaluation - if they present it the right way.

"Managers don't like to give negative employment reviews," said Deanna Geddes, a human resources professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

But many companies are asking more of employees than ever before and also issuing more negative evaluations than in the past, she noted. "The employee's response is, `You mess with me, I'll mess with you,' " she said. "There's a fair amount of sabotage that goes on in the workplace. Sometimes it's a retaliatory response to negative feedback." Negative appraisals often touch on employee notions of fairness, she said, noting employees may think something like, "Here I am working my tail off and you're saying I'm not good enough when I've never worked harder in my life." "In the delivery of any bad news, we have to be very sensitive, respectful and careful," she said. Poor performance review procedures were among the factors said to trigger workplace violence, according to 3,000 managers polled by the International Facility Management Association, a Houston-based group that helps companies manage people and other assets. Psychologist Hendrie Weisinger, associated with Excellence In Training Corp. in Des Moines, cited "unfair" evaluations among the "leading causes of workplace anger." "There are many examples of employees who become violent when the performance review resembles a parent-child relationship" rather than "a collaborative conversation," said Charles Labig, author of "Preventing Violence in the Workplace" (Amacom), and a consultant in Los Angeles. "Companies need to look at how managers set the tone in which performance reviews occur," Labig said. Geddes said managers increasingly were using negative appraisals to eliminate people from the workplace. …