Commenting on an employee's job performance can take place during the course of an annual performance appraisal, or the comments can be provided during informal chats with an employee. Supervisors who evaluate employee job performance should follow certain protocols and company practices when giving employees feedback on their performance levels. Comments about employee job performance should be done in a rational, well-documented manner with sufficient opportunity for the employee to provide input.

Review the employee's personnel file. If you are conducting an annual performance appraisal and intend to provide comments as part of the appraisal meeting, review as much documentation as available for the evaluation period. For example, disciplinary and corrective action memos, attendance records, work logs, commendations and employee self-assessments are materials you should review before meeting with the employee to provide comments on performance. Look at the employee's job performance in its totality before you construct comments for an evaluation period during an annual appraisal.

Schedule a time to meet with the employee about his performance. If the employee wasn't anticipating a meeting with you to discuss performance, tell her exactly what the subject of the meeting is and encourage her to bring relevant materials and notes about her performance. Remind the employee that the meeting is to be a conversation -- not a one-sided report about her performance without any employee input or feedback.

Start the meeting on a positive note by acknowledging the employee's contributions, his qualifications and how the company values his skills and qualifications. Provide comments and back up your comments with documentation. Stick to facts and personal observations of job-related matters. Refrain from using an accusatory tone when you provide constructive feedback and don't rely on secondhand information unless there's written documentation to substantiate the observations of others. Communicating effectively with your employee during this meeting is essential. Nolo, a provider of legal information for employers, provides tips for giving employee feedback in its guidance sheet titled, "How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation." It states: "Focus on how well (or poorly) the worker does the job -- not on the worker's personal characteristics or traits."

Review specific incidents where you observed the employee performing his job duties. Provide balanced feedback -- in other words, don't focus on strictly constructive or negative feedback, even if that was the intent of your conversation. Give examples of employee performance that meets the company's performance expectations. Identify areas where you believe the employee demonstrates excellent performance, and note areas where he could improve his performance.

Document your conversation with the employee. If the meeting is the culmination of a performance appraisal, provide the employee with a copy of the appraisal document and ask her to sign it. If this is an informal meeting wherein you are providing constructive feedback and suggestions for improvement, engage the employee in a dialogue on how to improve her performance. Ask what training and resources she needs to improve, and indicate when you'll follow up with her to provide the tools she needs. If the meeting is to discuss performance that exceeds the company's expectations, tell the employee that you'll summarize your comments and put a copy of the summary in her personnel file, as well as provide her with a copy.