Cathy hits on a great point in her post about leaders saying “I think” in a performance review. This also creeps into language in another way (and this is something I know I have done myself).
I’ve said to a direct report, “I see you doing X” or “I hear you talking about Y” or whatever it is. The problem is that this isn’t my performance review, it’s THEIRs. The easiest way to help you keep the focus on the team member is to literally not bring yourself into the conversation.
That means switching from the above examples to: “You are doing X” or “You have talked about Y.” If this is their performance review, be sure that the team member takes center stage and you can discuss what THEY have done without bringing yourself into the middle of this.
The BIGGEST mistake I made in reviews was telling a team member that “I am giving you a rating of X.” My major screw-up there was that I wasn’t “giving” that person anything. They had earned it. That’s what they put in the energy and focus to achieve. When I shared that “I was giving them X” it became about me and not about them.
A better way I could have said that is “You have earned a rating of X in this area, primarily due to…”