Performance Evaluations

One fellow was downright counterproductive because he would stop and talk throughout the job. I had a friend who worked in a meat-packing plant, and the employee took my lead and applied there immediately after he was let go.

Last year around Christmas, my wife and I were in a local butcher shop and sure enough, he had advanced to a job behind the counter where he talked (and talked) to people all day. That particular decision had a happy ending.

In all, I have found that honesty is the best policy. Most people about to receive a poor evaluation know their strengths and weaknesses. They simply want to obtain the supervisor’s viewpoint.

However, there are several legal implications these days, so I try the “Pat Summerall treatment” when addressing these issues. Summerall was a former NFL football player and sports broadcaster who had a great economy with words.

During one game he was calling in the mid-1980s, famed San Francisco receiver Jerry Rice went airborne for a catch, and when he hit the turf he bobbled the ball several times before securing it in his big left hand.

The other commentator was going crazy, yelling “left hand, right hand, left hand, right hand, AND HE COMES DOWN WITH IT!” Summerall sat quietly until it was his turn to speak and then simply said, “That guy … should have been a waiter.”

So with that approach in mind—I just try to be honest and direct. It is so much easier before, during, and after the evaluation. For example:

“You are late at least once a week. I have copies of your time cards right here.”

“You need to proofread your work. Here are three essays where you got sloppy and didn’t check. You have to submit final draft work!”

“Sometimes I question your dedication when you take vacation days during peak challenges at work. Other staff members seem to resent it, too.”

“You gossip too much and too often about the other employees.”

See how direct the first sentence is? There’s plenty of time to stroke the ego later. These are the issues you want to address, so say them.

Be clear. Be concise. And be gone.

Try to remember an evaluation is used to keep an employee on track. If you obscure the results or refuse to say what needs to be said, he or she will not improve. You were selected to be a supervisor. Don’t take that duty lightly.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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