What is your respose
ATD Blog

What Is Your Response?

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

In Part 6 of my leadership blog series, let’s determine the response you would take in each performance appraisal situation.

While you are conducting a performance appraisal interview with a new employee, she mentions having difficulty mastering a certain skill.

  • Tell her that you are not surprised because others have had difficulty, but you wonder why she waited until now to tell you. 
  • Ask her about the exact nature of the difficulty. 
  • Reassure her that most new employees have the same difficulty, but explain that it is necessary to master all aspects of her job. 
  • Tell her that she is not alone and then explain how she can master that skill.

In the middle of a performance appraisal interview, you mention having heard about an employee’s lack of teamwork and cooperation with members of other departments, and he responds by detailing the reasons for his behavior.

  • Tell him that there are undoubtedly many valid reasons for his behavior, but that in the future you would like to see him work a little harder on intradepartmental teamwork and cooperation. 
  • Explain to him that you did not mean to upset him and that you were not accusing him of anything. • Restate the issue so he understands you were not blaming him, but only bringing up an issue you had heard. 
  • Explain to him that you are more interested in solving the problem than in the reasons for his behavior.

You are working on a development plan with an employee during a performance appraisal interview. Her plan is unrealistic.

  • Ask for clarification on the timeline of the plan. 
  • Discuss benefits and drawbacks of the plan. 
  • Discuss obstacles of the current plan, then help make the plan more specific, measurable, and timely. 
  • Allow her to start working on the plan and then follow up in a few weeks.

Is your response for situation 1 to persuade her to improve, or to stimulate growth and development? Is your response for situation 2 to remove defensive feelings, or to discuss job problems that lead to improved performance? Is your response for situation 3 to suppress your feedback in an attempt to prevent any challenges, or to problem solve by using exploratory questions?


In all situations, use the coaching model in performance appraisals: invite input and encourage mutual trust, sincerity, and honesty.

If your approach to performance appraisals is, “I just want to get this review done; I’ll just wing it,” that’s bad. With that approach, you hold all the power and control in your hands only. Instead, coach your employees to develop goals for the next six to 12 months . Help them meet goals, and then gain commitment from them .

About the Author

Carrie Van Daele is president and CEO of Van Daele & Associates (, which features her Train the Trainer System for trainers and subject matter experts. Her company was founded in 1996 as a training and development firm in the areas of train the trainer, continuous process improvements, and leadership. It is a Certified Woman-Owned Business. Carrie is the author of  50 One-Minute Tips for Trainers. She is also a public speaker and a featured writer for several publications and organizations, such as the Association for Talent Development,  Women of Achievement magazine,  Quality Digest magazine, and  FM & T magazine. Her degrees include an AA from Evangel Bible College, a BS from Indiana University, and an MSM from Indiana Wesleyan University. 

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