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:
- gathering and recording performance data
- evaluating that data
- 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.
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.