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How to Explain a Bad Rating to a New Employee

written by: •edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 8/29/2010

Every business owner, supervisor, and HR manager has had to learn how to explain a bad rating to a new employee. Whether it’s a performance review after an initial orientation period or a six-month review, bad ratings don’t have to be painful or hard to deliver.

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    Bad Ratings Will Come

    Wondering Free Digtial Photos Not every employee you hire is going to be perfect. Knowing that up front will make the review process easier from the start. During your career as an employer, supervisor, or HR manager, you will experience everything from the difficult new employee to the new employee that is a slacker to an employee who just needs some mentoring.

    The process of explaining bad ratings to new employees may be difficult at first, but if you do a couple things, when a bad rating for a new employee comes your way, with time, you’ll be able to handle the review with ease.

    Image Credit (Free Digital Photos)

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    Steps to Handle Bad Ratings

    Idea Wikimedia Commons Almost everyone has been the recipient of a bad or mediocre review at some time in the career. Remember the bad review you had and keep that in the back of your mind. For new employees, whether they are fresh out of school and new to the workforce or an old hat that’s new to your company, performance tracking is the best way to judge how well they’re doing.

    If you have to deliver that bad rating, by following these steps you’ll be more effective, and that new employee may actually respect you as a leader he can trust.

    • Offer a Copy – First, the new employee already knows why he's sitting in front of you—it’s review time. Before you invite him in, don’t just have a jumble of supervisory thoughts in your head, have a written review and make a copy and offer it to the employee.
    • Step-by-Step – Talk about the review itself and clearly explain the areas of performance you will be covering.
    • Be Positive – Even if the new employee has offended a customer, a major faux pas, you can turn that negative into a positive by explaining what he did wrong and then suggesting what he could have done better.
    • Ask Questions – If you’re lost at why a new employee is performing at such a low level, ask him point-blank questions about his daily tasks. Be specific and ask him to tell you what he thinks his job entails.
    • Offer Suggestions – As a leader, it’s your job to turn that bad employee into a good one. Offer suggestions on how to improve or even an employee mentoring program to help him better learn his job. Perhaps there is some training you could offer to help him, whether it’s in-house or external.
    • Be a Good Listener – One hard part of learning how to explain a bad rating to a new employee is listening to his side. Maybe you didn’t match his skillsets with assigned tasks? Are his skills high but you have placed him in a position that brings boredom? Allow him to ask questions and think about responses before you offer them.
    • Have a Plan for Improvement – When you created the written review to go over with the new employee, you should have also created a plan on how he can improve. Be as detailed as possible on the improvements you suggest and give the employee a copy of this plan.
    • Promise a Follow-Up – Show the new employee that you want him to succeed by promising a follow-up to see how he's doing and feeling about his job. Often, an open-door policy is a good way to show the employee you care.
    • Signatures – Make sure your written review and improvement plan have places for both you and the employee to sign and offer the employee copies with signatures. Place the originals in his employee file.
    • Keep It Consistent – Make sure you utilize the same review and rating process for all new employees across the board—don’t play favorites.

    Image Credit (Wikimedia Commons)

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    When the Process Fails

    There may be times when, no matter what you do or how much effort you put into training a new employee, he just won’t work out. This is where your written documentation of the review and improvement plan will come in handy. It will be much easier for you both to part ways if you have documented problem areas that show no improvement or even an attempt to improve from the employee.

    Don’t let employees such as these discourage you or your rating process; they simply may not be a good fit. With practice, the process of how to explain a bad review to a new employee will come easier and you may even find new ways or innovative ways to train new employees to help them improve to the level you want.