We are fast approaching that time of year again… not the holidays, but employee evaluation season. I am certain the majority of readers have just experienced some sort of cringing, maybe moaning, or possibly the onset of a headache at the mere suggestion of this dreaded managerial task. Let's take a few minutes to evaluate your evaluating and see if the process can be less stressful and more beneficial for everyone this year.
Ask yourself, first, what the goal of evaluating your employees really is. If you are struggling to find an answer and go through the process because it is part of your assigned duties, then please, for the sake of your sanity and as a plea from your employees read on.
Performance evaluations should be used as a tool to grow not only your employees but to grow your organization. Used properly you can determine employee needs, strengths, deficiencies, and desires just to name a few. The organization can benefit from your discoveries and grow as a result of applying what you learn from your employees.
Most organizations have a standard way of evaluating all employees. As the evaluator keep these tips in mind:
Give your employee the respect of your undivided attention. No phones, no computers, no distractions.
Be unbiased. DO NOT begin the assessment of your employee by comparing them to other employees. Don't judge your employee by whether you like them or not. Keep your emotions out of the equation and evaluate your employee against their job description or organizational policy.
Make sure your employee knows their job description. They need to know what is expected of them. This information should have been given to them at the time of their hire and updated as changes to their job description was made. DO NOT evaluate an employee on any criteria that is not listed in their job description or the policy manual.
No surprises. DO NOT evaluate an employee on a performance issue they have not previously been made aware of. In other words, if you have not talked to them prior to the evaluation about a performance issue then the employee has not had time to correct their behavior.
Use the time during the evaluation to communicate with your employee. Create a non threatening atmosphere where your employee feels relaxed. This may sound absurd, but many employees get nervous at the mere thought of having a one-on-one with the boss.
If you need to counsel an employee on a performance deficiency be clear about how they do not meet expectation, based on specific fact and their job description or the policy manual, and then help the employee set a goal to meet the expectation with steps to make them successful.
Always set up a time to follow-up with your employee when you have had to set goals. Use that time to discuss any improvement, offer praise, offer continued guidance, or begin a disciplinary process. This is the meeting where you hold your employee accountable for the goals set during the performance evaluation. Now is where you hold them to what was agreed upon in the goal setting step.
During the evaluation ask your employee what parts of their job they look forward to doing. Ask them what feels most draining to them. Ask them if they feel they need additional training in any areas. Ask them if they have needs that are not being met by you or the organization. Gather as much information as you feel necessary to understand your employee and their responsibilities.
Give your employee an opportunity to suggest improvements to processes. They may have ideas but have never felt comfortable bringing them to your attention.
Ask your employee if they have career goals they would like to discuss. This gives them the chance to talk about themselves and their desires, and you the opportunity to learn how this employee plans to grow and contribute to the organization.
Only when the employee evaluation is over and all points have been discussed (including pay raises if this is part of your employee evaluation), and only if you're feeling especially brave, ask your employee how they feel you are doing as a leader. Ask them if they see areas you could improve upon. This turns the table to your performance, but also gives you the opportunity to see how you may or may not be contributing to the success of your employee.
Once you have finished the evaluation process take some time to reflect on the information you gathered. How can you apply this employee's strengths to their job or to the organization to increase productivity? Consider the strengths and weaknesses of all team members. Is there an employee with a strength that matches another employee's weakness? Can job duties be rearranged so everyone is working to their strengths? During the evaluation process did you discover a potential leader?
Employee evaluations may be a managerial task that you inherited with your title, but leadership is about relationships, and you are the leader to the people you evaluate. If you have been developing those important leadership skills you likely will have open and honest communication with your employees throughout the year, and your employees will feel secure in the evaluation process. Using the information you gather to help and grow your employees will only make them more successful and their success will directly translate into your success.