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Chapter 23. We're All Difficult Sometime... > Sometimes You Just Have to Ask - Pg. 252

We're All Difficult Sometimes--Are You Difficult oo Much? 252 There's a misconception that performance appraisals are a kind of one-way communication where the manager evaluates the employee, sort of like pouring water into a jug. In fact, the best perform- ance discussions involve an exchange of ideas on a variety of subjects. Yes, one of those topics is your employee and his or her performance. But another one is how you can help that employee do a better job or make the workplace more enjoyable. So, while perhaps 75 percent of the performance-appraisal discussion will be about the work of your subordinate, the remainder should be about you and your usefulness. In other words, we are going to create a forum for the employees to help you help them. The communication process to do this is really no different than what we described earlier when we talked about informal methods of getting information. Here is an example of your phrasing which could occur at the end of a performance planning session with Mary. "Mary, I think we've agreed that you'll be doing [insert information] in the next year. Because my job is to help you get those job tasks done, what can I do to help you get your job done or to make your life easier here? Do you anticipate any barriers to getting things done that I can help with? I may not be able to do everything, but I'll give it a shot." Here's one way of doing it at the performance appraisal meeting. "Mary, because my job is to make your job easier, I'd like to discuss how well I've done in helping or hindering you. Over the last year can you think of any situations where I could have been more helpful? Can you think of things I could have done differently that would have made things easier for you?" The information you get from this regular communication process is like gold. It changes how you interact, and it can help both of you to be more successful.