Annual reviews - anticipating a dispute
Seeking some advice. I am in the midst of preforming annual reviews for my direct reports, and I've only been in the role for just under a year.
I am in a difficult situation where my predecessor gave inflated evaluations and ratings of my staff in last years annual review, indicating to them they had preformed beyond their standard duties. My observations over the past months are at odds with previous evaluations, and I believe they are meeting expectations but far from preforming beyond their required duties. My reports will now be coming into the reviews with high expectations based on previous evaluations.
I am new to this role and have only just begun one-on-ones and giving regular feedback to my staff. I am anticipating when delivering the reviews and advising that they are only meeting expectations that I will be receiving questions for example "I would have done better if I had more time and feedback from you".
Whilst I realise I could have provided more coaching and assistance along the way, should there be any validity to this argument? Should I mark softer due to this circumstance?
I feel I should perform the review solely based on their behaviours and results. I have other newer direct reports who I have not had one-on-ones with either, yet have still performed above and beyond.