Employee Evaluations

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Evaluating an employee's performance isn't always easy, but it can be a valuable process for both of you. Employers that perform such ...

Evaluating an employee's performance isn't always easy, but it can be a valuable process for both of you. Employers that perform such evaluations at least once a year benefit greatly on many levels, as they are able to identify different company issues and clarify the roles of their employees. The evaluation process is a preventative tool, stopping problems usually at their root source. Once you’ve had a chance to meet with your employees and go over their strengths and weaknesses, they will know what you expect of them on a regular basis. Such meetings are also a chance to give and receive feedback, administer praise (as well as criticism) of their work, and outline any shortcomings in their performance or conduct. Evaluations help to identify pros and cons in your workforce, allowing you to reward good employees and identify & coach workers who are having difficulties. Additionally, the communication involved in any effective evaluation process guarantees you’ll stay in tune with the needs and concerns of your staff.

Initiate Standards and Goals
In order to prepare for employee evaluations, you need to initiate a system that will effectively measure their performance. For each role or position within your business, you’ll need to create an outline of performance standards and goals specific to that job:

Performance standards: Performance standards illustrate a) what you want employees in a specific job to accomplish and, b) how you want the job executed. These standards apply universally to every employee who holds the same position. Make sure your standards are realistic, achievable and directly related to the employee's job description. ·

Goals:
Contrary to performance standards, goals should be tailored to each employee; they will depend on the individual worker's strengths and weaknesses. For example, a goal for a new IT professional might be to learn a software program that will make your workplace more efficient; for an administrative assistant, a goal might be to take the exam to become a Notary Public. Your workers can help you determine what reasonable and attainable goals should be. After you’ve defined the standards and goals for each position and worker, record and distribute a hard copy to your employees. This will let your employees know what you expect and familiarize them with what they will have to accomplish throughout the year to receive a positive evaluation

Tracking Employee Performance

During the year, track the performance of each employee. Maintain a detailed log for each worker, either on your computer or on paper. Note distinguishing incidents or projects involving that worker, whether positive or negative.

Administering the Evaluation

It is recommended to formally evaluate your employees at least once a year. To do so, evaluate each worker by writing a performance appraisal and by meeting with each individual employee. To plan for such a meeting, gather and review all of the documents and records relating to the employee's performance, productivity, and behavior. Evaluate and review your log and the employee's personnel file. You may also want to take a look at other relevant company records relating to the worker, including sales records, call reports, productivity records, time cards, or budget reports. After you have finished creating the evaluation, arrange a meeting to discuss it with your employee. Be sure to schedule plenty of time for these meetings, as it's one of the most important you'll have all year.
  • Each standard or goal you’ve assigned for that employee and that position
  • Your conclusion as to whether the employee met the standard or goal, and
  • The reasons that illustrate and support your conclusion.

Evaluation Guideline

Administering employee evaluations can be difficult and stressful at times, for both employer and employee. Some workers react to criticism defensively. Often times, no one understands what merits a "positive" evaluation. If your workers feel that you take it easy on some of them while coming down hard on others, resentment is inevitable.
  • Be complete. Write your evaluation so that an outsider reading it would be able to understand exactly what happened and why. Remember, that evaluation just might become evidence in a lawsuit. If it does, you will want the judge and jury to see why you rated the employee as you did.
  • Be honest. If you avoid telling a worker about performance problems, the worker won't know that he or she needs to improve. Be sure to give the bad news, even if it is uncomfortable.
  • Be realistic. If you set unrealistic or impossible standards and goals, everyone will be disheartened – and will have little incentive to do their best if they know they will still fall short. Don't make your standards too easy to achieve, but do take into account the realities and limitations of your workplace.
  • Be specific. When you set goals and standards for your workers, spell out exactly what they will have to do in order to achieve them. For example, don't say "work harder" or "improve quality." Instead, say "increase sales by 20% over last year" or "make no more than three errors per day in data entry." Similarly, when you evaluate a worker, give specific examples of what the employee did to achieve – or fall short of – the goal.
  • Evaluate performance, not personality. Focus on how well (or poorly) the worker does the job – not on the worker's personal characteristics or traits. For instance, don't say the employee is "angry and emotional." Instead, focus on the workplace conduct that is the problem – for  example, you can say the employee "has been insubordinate to the supervisor twice in the past six months. This behavior is unacceptable and must cease."
  • Give deadlines. If you want to see improvement, give the worker a timeline to turn things around. If you expect something to be done by a certain date, say so.

Peer Evaluation

Given the diverse nature of teams and the increased span of control from restructuring, managers and supervisors often are not in a position to perform the traditional supervisor-employee performance appraisal. In many situations, peers may be the only ones who can provide relevant information about group outcomes.
  • Be careful about what you say, and make sure you have consistent expectations of all of your employees without regard to sex, color, age or disability.
  • Even if you and the employee disagree on an issue, you may both express your opinions.
  • If the employee gets angry at something you say, let him or her vent while you listen. Don't become defensive and argue.
  • The performance review should not be a shock in and of itself, nor should it be the first time the employee hears about a particular problem.
  • Remember: it's important to listen to your employees. The evaluation process will seem fairer to your workers if they have an opportunity to express their concerns, too. Ask employees what they enjoy about their jobs and about working at the company. Also ask about any concerns or problems they might have. You'll gain valuable information, and your employees will feel like real participants in the process. In some cases, you might even learn something that could change your evaluation.
  • During your meeting, let your employee know what you think he or she did well, and which areas could use some improvement. Referring to your evaluation as a guide, explain your conclusions about each standard and goal.
  • Observe your worker's comments carefully, and ask the employee to write them down on the evaluation form. Do your best to put the employee at ease, or anxiety may prevent the individual from hearing what you have to say.
  • Avoid focusing only on areas that need improvement - every employee wants and needs to be praised, so spend just as much, if not more, time describing what he or she is doing right. This is crucial to keeping a good employee around!
  • Take notes on the meeting and include those notes on the form. Additionally, it is helpful if you offer the employee the option of writing an alternate point of view for his or her file in case of disagreement, and also if legal actions should follow.

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