Tips for Conducting Employee Evaluations

Employee evaluations are among the most difficult staff management aspects of any supervisor’s job. Even if you’re a seasoned professional accustomed to conducting regular performance reviews, judging your employees’ performance and communicating your findings to them can be stressful – especially with anxious employees. And if you’re new to the job or the company, being the “newbie” who delivers feedback can pose an extra challenge.

It’s important to recognize employee evaluations for what they are: opportunities to have a dialog about progress and performance in a one-on-one setting. They’re valuable tools that allow supervisors to acknowledge improvements in an employee’s performance, as well as his individual contributions to a company’s success. When necessary, it’s also the time to discuss areas where an employee could improve and offer suggestions to do so. An employee gains insights into his supervisor’s perception of his performance and receives acknowledgement for his achievements. This is his chance to discuss strengths and weaknesses, and to see how his progress fits into his overall professional goals.

The Evaluation Procedure

Though frequency and methods vary from company to company, evaluation procedures generally consist of three steps:

  1. gathering and recording performance data
  2. evaluating that data
  3. communicating findings to the employee

As a supervisor, you possess the key to making evaluations a success: superior communication skills. It’s your responsibility to lead the conversation and ensure its tone is optimistic, objective and open in order to foster a cooperative atmosphere that allows both parties’ points to be expressed effectively.

Evaluation Tips

Some companies provide supervisors with strict guidelines on performance evaluation; others allow managers to implement those techniques they deem most fit.

Whatever the situation, you can streamline your procedure and make it more effective.

  • Decide on an evaluation system. Depending on your field, employees’ performance measurements may vary from sales numbers and production output to customer satisfaction ratings and client retention. Determine the most telling aspects of performance assessment for the situation and decide how, and how often, to gather data. For example, if you’re a sales manager, you can keep daily records of each employee’s sales and review them each quarter.
  • Let your employee know she’s being evaluated. Always inform the employee that she’s being evaluated. Explain to her what aspects of his performance are under review; how you will gather data; and how often you will evaluate.
  • Keep records diligently. Most companies have tracking systems to record certain aspects of performance such as sales or project completion. However, you can also note numerous small and large things on a daily basis. Did a certain employee provide a solution to a problem that had the rest of the team stumped? Did he go out of his way to finish a monthly report on time? Did she work effectively with another colleague to develop a more streamlined workflow? Keep a weekly or monthly file on each employee with notes on both positive and negative observations.
  • Ensure the evaluation is an accurate reflection of the entire term. When you track an employee’s performance and review your files on a regular basis, you’ll be in a better position to present a comprehensive review with accurate feedback during actual evaluation meetings. Don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on the last week or month before the meeting.
  • Don’t let personality get in the way. Whether you get along with the employee or not, you should never let personality differences get in the way of an objective assessment. You should review only behaviors, actions and performance. Whether you appreciate the employee’s sense of humor or shyness is irrelevant. Maintain a professional attitude and present your findings in an objective manner from the company’s point of view. If you observe yourself or the employee becoming frustrated, upset or angry, reiterate the objectives of the review, suggest a short break and resume the meeting when both parties are calmer.
  • Keep the tone constructive. Negative feedback is never easy to deliver or receive, so deliver yours in the most positive manner possible. Refrain from comparing the employee’s performance to that of a colleague; instead, use company goals as a benchmark.
  • Leave room for dialog. A performance review isn’t a one-way street. Allow the employee to his voice concerns and observations, as well as his short- and long-term objectives. In addition, ensure there’s room for the employee to add to your review if necessary. For example, if you’ve omitted to note actions or achievements the employee valued highly, make sure he has room to communicate them. When both parties understand what achievements the other values and what the respective goals are, it becomes easier to determine an effective workflow.

A smart supervisor knows how to get the best out of her people at all times. With a strategic approach to employee evaluations, you create a win-win for your company’s objectives and your employees’ careers.

Communicate with Power

Many of the defining characteristics needed for effective leadership — like having a vision, integrity, commitment and resilience – are innate. Fortunately, another quality, as essential for success as the others, can be learned–the ability to mobilize a fire-in-the-belly effort among employees to help the leader realize ambitious goals. Leaders can acquire this ability by observing and learning from the behaviors of leaders who deploy these skills, by being coached or by incrementally stretching employees beyond the nom to generate the needed commitment.

The power of the leader’s position alone cannot command enthusiasm and dedication from today’s workforce. Instead, employees must be convinced that the leader’s objectives are achievable, understand that meeting the goals will provide a personal payoff, and be inspired to make their own full force contribution. To generate the needed support from everyone in the organization, leaders must put their leadership on parade: They must be visible, crystal clear about their message and take every opportunity to demonstrate– live and in person– their passion for their goals. Unless they show how deeply they cares, few others will care and their plan may be seen as another flavor of the month.


Some leaders believe it is sufficient to communicate their goals to the workforce through the organization’s internal media, such as employee publications, intranet, or videoconferencing–the more sophisticated the technology the better. Many have become enamored with blogging because it makes possible instant communications with large numbers of employees– assuming they make the effort to log on. Tlhis is useful because it allows for repetition of the leader’s message, which is essential for making an impact. But using media is not a substitute for interacting with employees face to face. Media cannot convey the intensity of feeling the leader has for his plan nearly as well as human contact does. The very fact that the leader is there, and has left the comfort of the office to communicate with employees, gives the message importance.

Leaders must make his case loudly, clearly and consistently. They should seize every opportunity to speak from the heart in personal engagements with the employees, Thus allowing them express their message with absolute clarity and address any concerns the employees may have about it. As an additional payoff, the workforce’s views about other company issues will come through unfiltered. (Reporting of bad news at these meetings should be encouraged because it can be dealt with on the spot and not spiral out of control.)

Personal interactions with the workforce can take many different forms. Leaders can make presentations before large groups in auditoriums. There can be smaller, more informal departmental or function-focused meetings, where participants will feel freer to ask questions or present problems. Leaders who appear at these meetings without the usual retinue of direct reports signals that they are approachable and welcome interaction.

Leaders also can meet with a cross-section of employees in skip-level meetings, conduct spontaneous walkabouts to fill in the time between planned events, have lunch in the organization’s cafeteria, and drop in on the back office, the factory floor or a remote office where employees may never have seen them and will be particularly impressed. When leaders give employee awards at presentation ceremonies, the awards become particularly special. Praise from an employee’s direct supervisor is a strong motivator; from the organization’s leader it is even stronger. Effective leaders are generous with their praise whenever it is deserved.


Putting leadership on parade does not come naturally to some leaders, particularly those who have led primarily by issuing directives. But presenting with power is a skill easily learned. Once learned, it becomes a habit and each presentation becomes increasingly effective. In any meeting, large or small, the effective leader captures the listeners’ attention immediately, holds it for the duration of the presentation, and creates the kind of energy that generates action.

The leader should organize the message so it is clear and compelling, appealing to both the heart and head. Stories involve the audience and reveal the leader’s humanity, which is essential for establishing trust. They paint word pictures, with characters, settings and action. The leader makes deliberate use of wording, voice, posture, movement and timing.

The most powerful communication tools are the eyes. Steady, warm eye contact conveys credibility. Failure to make eye contact can signal unease, defensiveness or perhaps lack of candor. When talking with one person, the leader looks at the other’s eyes, then moves away to avoid causing discomfort. With a large group, he makes everyone feel included by making eye contact with one person in the audience for as long as it takes to express a thought, and then moves his eyes to someone else in a different part of the room.

When a leader is able to zero in with eye contact toward one audience member, surrounding audience members benefit too; studies have shown that all the audience members in the area around the person being addressed feel they’re being spoken to directly. Using the eyes this way also alleviates whatever anxiety the presenter may be feeling because speaking one-to-one to an individual comes naturally. In contrast, nervous speakers scan the audience, never finding one focal point, which increases their anxiety because the brain has too much information to process.

An academic study conducted by faculty at the University of Akron’s School of Communication in US showed that using the eyes appropriately is the single most important factor for communicating effectively.


Effective presenters do not use a lectern, a barrier that separates the leader from the audience. They have no need for lecterns because they do not read from a written text. They understand that presentations that are read are considered old news and, as such, detract from the spontaneity that creates energy in the audience. Doing without visuals can be a particularly effective when the presentation is intended to inspire the audience rather than convey information.

Effective leaders showcase their passion by putting their whole body into the presentation. They support every statement with an appropriate gesture and make large body movements to underscore important points. They further accentuate these points with dramatic pauses or by raising or lowering their voice. Their choice of language demonstrates they are real because they avoid euphemisms, jargon and office-speak.

Although their presentation may appear spontaneous, they have carefully rehearsed. They’ve put aside extraneous content. They’ve identified Questions that may be asked prepared and succinct and persuasive answers . Though an initial presentation like this may require serious rehearsing, the process becomes easier as the leader seeks out opportunities to continue presenting. A seasoned speaker who gets a deep sense of pleasure from presenting can become encouraged to present his views about significant issues on the national stage. This further helps cement leadership positioning.


The “leadership on parade” process begins with leaders  honestly assessing how the workforce perceives them and how they in turn views the employees. Mistaken impressions can hinder communication and, with that, the leader’s effectiveness.

Leaders may misunderstand the workforce’s values, particularly if he is new. They may have come from a company whose employees value making lots of money but their new culture emphasizes a concept like “do no evil.” Judgments from trusted direct reports will be needed because even a small change that runs counter to the culture can have large repercussions.

The workforce may not have a good understanding of the leader either. The leader may have served for many years but not been very visible. Unknowingly, the leader may be sending out contrary signals. Is the leader shirt-sleeved or double-breasted? Occupying a walnut-paneled corner office or at the center of the floor? Each is making a values statement. With these and other choices, leaders must project their true selves.

This is not a call for the leaders to improve their “image”– a mere artifice; honest, effective communication is authentic.

How to Manage High & Low Performers

People who invest their money wisely focus on the investments that have the greatest chance of turning out to be winners. Do you do the same when managing the performance of your employees? If you are sadly like most managers, the answer is you probably get caught up spending too much time with low performers who have a fair chance of being acceptable but not stars. What would happen if y0u dedicated more time to your employees who are acceptable performers yet exhibit clear signs of being high performers? The answer is that many of these acceptable performers will move into the ranks of high performers.

As a CEO, manager, or business owner, how do you identify the employees to focus on, and how can you make the most of your lower performers?

1. Be selective about whom you focus on

Carefully select who will be important for you to invest your time, energy, and other resources in to develop their performance. This decision is incredibly important. If you choose a low performer, your likely payoff will be less than if you select a high performer. This may seem at odds with what you have learned in the past, or it may even seem to go against the grain of democracy or fighting for the underdog. However, if your goal is to maximize performance, then this approach is more likely to yield grater results more quickly.

Anyone can really improve only two or three things at a single time, no matter what multitaskers tell you. Deliberately practicing two or three things is what drives high impact gains in performance and productivity, and that practice can be enhanced with explicit, targeted feedback from mangers. It is far easier, more rewarding, and more effective to leverage strengths rather than focusing on weaknesses. The key is to find strength in one area in the performer and get them to use that strength in an area that requires improvement. Real, sustained improvement takes time. As a manager, you require patience as you need to focus on the long term and not just quick fix. The quicker the fix, the less sustainable the result.

2. Keep hope alive for all performers

Keep hope alive for all performers, even those who are chronically low. What does this mean? As a manager or CEO, you want to make investments, though not equal investments, in all performers. But do not waste a lot of time, energy, and other resources on your employees who, at their very best, will only be average or acceptable performers. These are not bad people or bad fits for your company or not worthy of salary or slackers; they may simply be comfortable in their current position and have no desire to become the company superstar.

A manager who wants to improve performance should demonstrate what psychologists call “unconditional positive regard”. This means that you accept where your staff begins their performance improvement journey: Some may begin behind; others at the right place; and some even ahead. Assess the starting place but do not judge. Then, you can identify the signature strengths of all of your staff, even chronic low performers.

Watch out for the “Pygmalion effect” of your staff rising or falling to meet your expectations. In other words, if you have low expectations, they will move to meet your low expectations; if you have high expectations; your employees will move to meet your high expectations.

Focus on making progress toward a longer term goal and reward that progress, even if it is only one baby step after another. By rewarding small steps towards the larger performance goal, you will also feel less frustration because you know your efforts with the low performers are paying off.

3. Address chronic low performers

Cut your losses early. As a manager or CEO, you are responsible to your boss or stockholders, to your company, and to your customers. There are two ways to address chronic low performers. If, after setting clear expectations, monitoring their performance, coaching them, and then letting them know about the consequences of underperforming, you still see no improvement, you should let them go.

If your company cannot afford to let any employees go to keep the operation running, the second way to address the issue is to reassign chronic low performers. When you reassign an employee, you protect the majority of those who are performing well from smaller group that could persuade them to lower performance across the board of distract the higher performers.

Picture yourself three to six months from now after experimenting with these three recommendations. Not only will you have a plan for all performers, but you will have dedicated more time, energy, and resources to those performers with the greatest payoff. Your time is precious; you can focus on only so much. You have to be selective about what you focus on. When you are responsible for managing performance, prioritize and be confident knowing that your investment will pay off for you, your company, and your customers.


How to Delegate Effectively

Managers get things done through other people. They delegate primarily because it makes their job easier. If they try to do everthing themselves, they become unnecessarily burdened; their performance and health deteriorate; they fail to develop their staff adequately; and in time the organization will suffer. Indeed, many believe that the ability to delegate is the main feature that distinguishes good from bad managers. Knowing how to delegate is, therefore; a crucial management and leadership skill.

From your prioritized jobs, select one to delegate: List in priority order those tasks you might consider delegating. To qualify for this list, a task should be:

  • taking too much of your time
  • not stricly relatd to your key role,
  • rather routine,
  • appropriate and chanllenging for another staff member, or,
  • better undertaken by someone with more appropriate skills or know-how than yours,

Define clearly for yourself the task to be delegated; Clarify in your own mind the task to be delegated. Think through each task so that you are clear about;

  • expected results or product,
  • how the task might be approached,
  • subtasks within the overal task,
  • limits of authority,
  • necessary timelines,
  • how you will know the task is done,
  • resources required,
  • necessary training.

Understand the task fully yourself so that later you will be able to thoroughly brief a staff member.

Select the right person for the job; As a good manager, you should be aware of the strengths and limitations of your staff and delegate accordingly. The ideal choice should have the ability, knowledge, skills, enthusiasm, talent, and time needed to get the job done. Unfortunately, such qualities are not always found in the person; so before selecting someone, ask yourself;

  • who has the necessary skills?
  • who would be most challenged?
  • who would be learn most? Who would benefit least?
  • Does the task require previous experience? Will training be needed?
  • What particular personal qualities are needed? Who has them?
  • Who can be trusted to do the job?
  • What other workload does that person have?
  • Is more than one person needed? If so, can they work together successfully?
  • Who would enjoy a job like this? How will others react?

Delegation to the right person should improve skills, morale, and esteem.

Conduct a thorough briefing; In handing over the assignment, be prepared to set aside adequate time in private to clearly communicate:

  • the scope of the task,
  • specific results requried,
  • time schedule and deadlines,
  • available resources,
  • the authority needed to carry out the jobs,
  • how performance can be measured,
  • sensitive or risky aspects of the task,
  • reporting procedures,
  • your confidence in the person you select.

Ask for feedback and encourage questions to eliminate any confusion.

Define clearly for yourself the task to be delegated; When you give people a job, ensure you tell them how much authority you are handing over. Three prossibilities are;

  • “Look inot the problem; suggest three solutions; and I’ll choose the best.”
  • “Look into the problem; tell me how you plan to slove it; and do so unless I tell you otherwise.”
  • “Solve the problem and tell me when you’re finished.”

Set parameters and establish controls to ensure this authority and the accompanying power will be properly used. If necessary, inform other relevant staff.

Keep lines of communication open; When you delegate, you do not abdicate responsibility. You must maintain some control over the project. At the very least, agree to have your delegate inform you only when things are not going according to plan. Be accessible but not meddlesome. The delegate should make the first contact.

Monitor progress unobtrusively; Keep eye on your delegate’s progress without intruding. If necessary, confirm in advance how often progress is to be reported. As the delegate gains confidence, tactfully withdraw but remain alert for problems. Help if aksed to do so.

Reward performance; Appreciate a job well done by reconizing good work privately and publicly. Sincere recognition will increase your effectiveness in working with others.

Delegate as part of a master plan; Review the project on its completion to make sure your delegate has also gained from the task. See delegation as part of the planed growth of your staff. Through delegation, they grow in confidence; and they and your organization will benefit in the long run.


5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Human Resources Management Skills

If you’re a small business owner, you may feel that Human Resources Management (HRM) only applies to large companies and corporations. But effective HRM provides strategies for managing employees in any size business. If your business hires employees on any level, HRM policies can help you improve every aspect of recruiting, safety, employee training, hiring and even firing. Gaining new skills in HRM can help you better deal with every aspect of your business’s human resources.

  • Let your employees work together, share ideas and develop a sense of ownership over their jobs and the workplace. When workers feel free to share ideas, it helps them to be more productive and more effective in their jobs. Give them the freedom to express their thoughts and utilize their creativity whenever you can.
  • Build relationships with your staff, colleagues and managers. This is done by expressing concern for others, treating people with respect, trusting them to want to do their jobs well, and giving them your full attention when required.
  • Create an environment that encourages your employees to perform better and recognizes their efforts when they do. It’s easy to overlook a job well done, simply because it’s expected that employees perform adequately. But if you have an employee who has been struggling to improve and she finally makes noticeable progress, let he/her know you noticed. It can help him/her to improve even more just to know you’re aware of him/her efforts.
  • Learn to communicate clearly, whether in writing or verbally. Communication skills can be learned. In fact, if you struggle in this area, take a few eCourses to help you improve your skills. This is one of the most important things you can do to improve your HRM abilities.
  • Lead your team by example rather than simply direction. This will help your employees respect you much more because they can see you’re not asking them to perform tasks you’re unwilling to perform.

Recognize what works and what doesn’t work in your HRM and eliminate ineffective procedures. Develop systems for monitoring success and learn to adapt your policies as needed to ensure your business is running as smoothly and efficiently as possible.