Employees often pay more attention to written comments than to numerical ratings they receive during their performance appraisal process. However, these comments, while desired by many employees, may actually hurt employee performance. Despite extensive research on performance appraisal ratings, practitioners have little guidance for managing an appraisal process such that comments are used in productive ways. This article addresses this gap. In particular, this article identifies how comments are used, when comments harm performance, features of comments that make them actionable or useful for improving performance, and recommendations for practitioners for constructively integrating comments into performance appraisal systems.



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