How to ensure the interview leads to improved performance

Many managers bring to the appraisal an erroneous (and unstated) assumption; that simply revealing the gap between where the employee should and is will trigger improved performance. But in most human endeavors that’s not enough. For example, if getting someone to lose weight merely required a scale, there’d be little need for all the diet programs on their market. Similarly, identifying the gap is just first step in improving an employee’s performance. Doing so often requires providing the tools and support the person needs to move ahead. Here, clearing up job related problems with the employee and setting measurable performance targets and a schedule for achieving them – an action plan – are essential.

How to handle defensive Subordinate

Defenses are an important and familiar aspect of our lives. When a supervisor tells someone his or her performance is poor, the first reaction is often denial. By denying the fault, the person avoids having to question his or her own competence. Others react to criticism with anger and aggression. This helps them let off steam and postpones confronting the immediate problem until they are able to cope with it. Still others react to criticism by retreating into a shell.

In any event understanding and dealing with defensiveness is an important appraisal skill. In his book, Effective Psychology for Managers, psychology Mortimer Feinberg suggests the following:

1) Recognize that defensive behavior is normal.
2) Never attack a person’s defenses. Don’t try to explain someone to themselves by saying things like. You know the real reason you’re using that excuse is that you can’t bear to be blamed. Instead concentrate on the act (sales are down).
3) Postpone action. Sometimes it is best to do nothing. People frequently react to sudden threats by instinctively hiding behind their masks. But given sufficient time, a more rational reaction takes over.
4) Recognize your own limitations. The supervisor should not try to be a psychologist. Offering understanding is one thing; trying to deal with psychological problems is another mater entirely.

How to criticize a subordinate

When you must criticize, do it in a manner that lets the person maintain his or her dignity. Criticize in private and do it constructively. Provide examples of critical incidents and specific suggestions of what could be done and why. Avoid once a+ year critical broadsides by giving feedback on a daily basis, so that the formal review contains no surprises. Never say the person is always wrong (since no one is ever always wrong or right). Criticism should be objective and free of any personal biases on your part.

Whether subordinates express satisfaction with their appraisal interview depends on factors such as (1) not feeling threatened during the interview, (2) having an opportunity to present their ideas and feelings and to influence the course of the interview; and (3) having a helpful and constructive supervisor conduct the interview.

How to handle a formal written warning

An employee’s performance may be so poor that it requires a formal written warning. Such written warnings serve two purposes: (1) They may serve to shake your employee out of his or her ad habits, and (2) they can help you defend your rating, both to your own boss and (if needed) to the courts.

Written warnings should identify the standards by which the employees is judged, make it clear that the employee was aware of the standard, specify any deficiencies relative to the standard and show the employee had an opportunity to correct his or her performance.

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