Employee evaluations can be daunting for employee and employer alike, and if not delivered in the right way they can adversely affect an employee’s motivation, confidence and performance.
If you are not getting the results you want, it is time to reconsider how you have conducted employee evaluations in the past and make the following changes:
1. Think twice before asking your employees to do a self-evaluation
Asking an employee to evaluate themselves may seem inclusive but will backfire if the employee does not take responsibility for their performance. Employees are unlikely to evaluate their performance critically or give themselves a bad appraisal. Some employees will wonder why you are asking them to evaluate themselves instead of doing it yourself and may believe that you are apathetic toward them. Starting the evaluation process this way could be the difference between having a lacklustre meeting or a constructive discussion.
2. Only raise issues you can substantiate with facts and figures
If you make a general statement about the poor performance of an employee, they may ask you to cite examples of when their performance has been poor. While facts and evidence are key to providing good performance feedback, without evidence on hand, your points will have less impact. Always give solid feedback and set clear goals for improvement.
3. Refrain from discussing negative personality traits
Everyone likes a compliment such as ‘You have a great attitude’. However, if you tell someone that their attitude is poor, they will think you are attacking them personally, so concentrate on behaviour rather than personality. If a persons’ attitude is adversely affecting their performance, address the behaviour that formed your conclusion, rather than focusing on the personal.
4. Ensure you don’t focus primarily on the near-term
Employees may get annoyed if the evaluation only considers the two-three months preceding the evaluation rather than focusing on their work throughout the year. Keep records, take regular notes and make sure the evaluation reflects the entire period since the last evaluation.
5. Never be tempted to ‘Overate to Motivate.’
Avoid over-inflating an employee’s performance in the hope that it will motivate them to do a better job. A good evaluation will accurately reflect a person’s performance. Motivate an underperforming employee by sharing the business vision and setting goals together that support the vision. Consider if the employee requires additional training or qualifications to support their growth and performance.
6. Compare to performance standards, not to other employees
Making comparisons to other employees creates unhealthy competition and division amongst employees. Only make comparison 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. However, avoid discussing the economy, your industry, or the market. The employee evaluation is for the employee to receive feedback on their performance. Questions should 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?
8. Be aware of questions you can’t or shouldn’t answer
When having an open conversation with an employee, be prepared to have an honest discussion about your employee’s performance but don’t let your guard down and share confidential information.
9. Only make promises you can keep
Share business development plans but bear in mind when you say ‘possibly’ employees often hear ‘definitely’. While it is always important to manage expectations, if you’re not sure whether you’ll be able to deliver on something, then don’t mention or talk it up. Post-evaluation, if a potential opportunity doesn’t work out, follow up to let the employee know and explain the reason.
10. Always refer to the previous review
You may have forgotten what you put in your employee’s last evaluation, but they haven’t. If you cite the same examples as in the previous evaluation, your employee will feel that you are 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. A performance evaluation is not just a one-off event, it is part of the process of improvement and development so take good notes and refer to them.
You will learn more about how to conduct employee evaluations when undertaking a Diploma of Human Resource Management (BSB50320) or Certificate IV of Human Resource Management (BSB40420) with the College for Adult Learning.
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