It's that time of the year again. Many of us already got into a holiday spirit, feeling generous while giving your end-of-the-year performance evaluations. After all, nobody likes difficult conversations, especially during holidays. But is this the best idea?
A perfect track record of positive performance evaluations for an employee who is ultimately terminated for performance will always put a smile on a plaintiff’s attorney’s face.
The problem of overly generous performance evaluation is often made worse when employee starts reporting to a new manager. For example, imagine that Sally had a great (albeit inaccurate) record for years given to her by her old manager, a well liked overly-generous performance reviewer. Sally's new manager does not sugarcoat issues in Sally's performance evaluation, and when Sally is later terminated for performance issues, her attorney is bound to make an argument to the judge or jury that because the evaluations were positive under previous management, the sudden change in heart about the employee’s performance must be because of the new manager’s bias against Sally is based upon her status in a protected class.
Always be honest in your evaluations, and document every issue you see in your employee's performance. This will help your employees to improve as well. After all, if Sally does not know about her performance issues, how is she going to fix them? Help your workers improve by giving them honest, meaningful feedback and protect yourself from potential exposure to liability in the same time.