10 Ways of Ruining Employee Evaluations

10 Ways of Ruining Employee Evaluations


Evaluations can be daunting for employee and employer alike they are generally not enjoyable but a necessary evil. If not delivered in the right way they can adversely affect an employee’s motivation, confidence and performance.

Here are 10 ways of ruining employee evaluations:

  1. Ask your employees to do a self-evaluation: Some employees will wonder why you areasking them to evaluate themselves instead of doing it yourself. They may believe that you are being apathetic toward them. Employees are unlikely to evaluate their performance critically, and are unlikely to give themselves a bad appraisal. This could be the difference between having a constructive discussion and an argument. An employee evaluating themselves may seem inclusive but ultimately may not be if the employee does not take responsibility for their performance.
  2. Never raise issues you cannot substantiate with facts and figures: If you make a general statement about the poor performance of an employee and they may well ask you to cite specific examples of when their performance has been poor. Without the specific examples on hand, your points regarding their performance will fall on deaf ears. Always give specific examples of poor performance together with how they can improve. Facts and evidence is the key to providing good performance feedback.
  3. Discussing Personality Traits Especially the Negative Ones: Everyone likes a complement i.e. you have a great attitude. If you tell someone that their attitude is poor, they will think you are attacking them personally, it’s better to concentrate on someone’s behaviour rather than their personality. If a persons’ attitude is adversely affecting their performance, list their behaviour that formed your conclusion. Always concentrate on a person’s behaviour rather than focusing on the personal.
  4. Focus primarily on the near-term: The longer the evaluation period, it’s more likely to focus on the recent past. Employees may get annoyed if the evaluation only takes into account the three months preceding the evaluation rather than focusing on their work throughout the year. Keep records, take notes and make sure the evaluation reflects the entire period since the last evaluation.
  5. Overate to Motivate: It is tempting for managers to over inflate an employee’s performance in the hope that it will motivate them to do a better job. Evaluation should accurately reflect a person’s performance. An employee evaluation is not the right method to motivate an underperforming employee.
  6. Compare to other employees: Comparisons to other employees only serve to create unhealthy competition and division amongst employees. Comparison should only be made between employee performance and standards. Even if the person is the lowest performing employee in your team, focus on how they can improve instead of belittling them against other employees.
  7. Ask throwaway questions: Naturally we ask questions to engage people and make people feel comfortable. During an evaluation this could result in questions about the economy, your industry, the market, or how the business can improve. Avoid these questions because the employee evaluation is specifically for the employee, and for managers to provide feedback on their performance. Questions should specifically concentrate on how to get the best out of the employee and make them succeed. Try to ask questions such as: do they need assistance? Do they have the resources and tools needed to do the job well? How can we help you do your job better? Etc After All, your role as a manager is to try to ensure your employees are doing their job to their capability.
  8. Never answer questions you can’t or shouldn’t answer: When having an open and honest conversation with an employee, you can inadvertentlyshare sensitive and confidential information. Be prepared to have an honest conversation about your employee’s performance but don’t let your guard down and share information you shouldn’t share.
  9.  Make promises you can’t keep: A decent performance appraisal will consider employees performance by looking at past and will have an eye toward future performance.Feel free to share developmental and improvement plans but bear in mind when you say “possibly” employees will hear “definitely”. It is always important to manage expectations, if you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to deliver on something, or if a potential opportunity exists: don’t mention or talk it up. If a potential opportunity doesn’t work out, let the employee know and explain why (10 ways to ruin an employee evaluation, BNET, Jeff Haden, September 12 2011)
  10. Ignore the previous Review: You may have forgotten what you put in your employees last evaluation, but your employee hasn’t. If you cite the same examples in the previous evaluation, your employee feels that you going through the motions. If you cite the same opportunities as in the previous evaluation, they will assume you think that their career development is limited. After the meeting, take some notes and review these and the previous evaluation before the next evaluation. A performance evaluation not just a one-off event, it is part of the process of improvement and development while you may forget what you’ve said in an employee’s evaluation, they will remember what was said.

If this blog has whetted your appetite to learn more about employee evaluations, why not consider doing a Human Resources Diploma or Certificate IV of Human Resource Management with the College for Adult Learning.

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