How to Write a Negative Review in a Positive Way
Conducting employee evaluations is an integral part of the job for most management positions. Assessments should recognize the things an employee is doing well while providing constructive feedback on areas where the employee needs improvement. Writing a negative review in a positive way allows you to encourage, rather than discourage, your employee and find productive ways to set new goals and objectives and improve overall performance.
Start off the evaluation by highlighting all of the employee’s positive achievements during the assessment period. Quantify your comments where possible, showing the growth of earnings figures or sales revenue or highlighting projects and team initiatives that were successfully completed. Judge not only the employee’s performance but also his attitude, approach to teamwork and initiative.
Look for positive angles of negative performance. For example, you might note that while a staffer didn't complete a particular project by deadline, the work that was completed was meticulous and detail-oriented. It's still important to note the deficiencies in an effort to bring them to the employee’s attention and look for ways to improve future performance. However, framing negative assessments with a positive angle can be helpful to an employee’s morale and self-confidence.
Suggest new, attainable goals to the employee based on his acknowledged areas of strength. For example, if you have an employee who is diligent in his project planning but has difficulty carrying out different aspects of project implementation on a tight timetable, establish objectives that are in line with his strengths. Also consider training or education programs that might help your staffer develop new skills.
End your negative evaluation on a positive note, focusing on moving forward and acknowledging the personal traits of the employee that make him a valued contributor to your team. Even if you just say the employee has a friendly attitude toward co-workers, it still allows you to point to something good that can help the employee become more motivated and encourage higher degrees of performance in the future.
Your employees are adults who don’t need to be coddled throughout an evaluation. Staffers know when they need to improve, and they appreciate feedback that helps them grow professionally. Be respectful in the way you give feedback. Don't sugar-coat or downplay inadequacies; instead, concentrate on starting a dialogue with the staffer that has an ultimate goal of improving performance while maintaining morale.