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Get the Most of Your Annual Performance Evaluations

June 07, 2013 at 9:48 AM

It's that time of year again - time to start writing the annual performance reviews. You hate doing them, the employees hate getting them, so why even bother?

If managers, employees, and the company are not getting value out of annual performance evaluation, something's not right. The truth is, if done properly, performance evaluations can provide valuable feedback and coaching opportunities. However, there are a few key elements that need to occur to transform this painful ritual into a positive experience for both the employees and their supervisors.

1) The evaluations should be measurable.

What types of behaviors should you be measuring? Start with the criteria that impact your department's performance goals. Are there activities the employee performs that can be measured in financial terms (sales dollars, quotas, etc.)? Are there productivity measurements you can use? And how do you measure that elusive, subjective "workplace attitude?" Look through their personnel file--are there write-ups or incidents that have been recorded during the year--good or bad? Any examples where the employee has volunteered for extra assignments? Or refused to do expected tasks? Attendance records are something most companies can easily provide and are a good (albeit not the only) source for employee reliability.

You should keep careful records throughout the year, not just the last two months, or however long your memory lasts. Without proper documentation, it just becomes your word against their word, especially when there are performance concerns that need to be addressed.

2) Forms should be filled out so as to be unique for each employee.

Put careful attention to each review to make it personal for every employee. Be thoughtful enough so an outsider can read it and get a feel for every individual. If each review reads like every other review, not enough care has gone into the evaluation. And don't neglect the ever-critical "comments" section. Your personal remarks will sink in more than will a random number score: "Sasha's eye for detail has increased our quality numbers," or "Marie needs to make more of an effort to improve her tardiness" are concrete, objective, and specific.

As for those number scores, be frugal with the "Above Expectations" rating--if every employee "Exceeds Expectations," that means either your staff are the Avengers, or your expectations are too low. Since it's unlikely that your reports are all superheroes, you probably need to raise the bar.

3) Evaluations should look to the future as much as the past.

While annual reviews are a valuable record of employees' past achievements, they are not just a static snapshot. They're a living document that records goals and expectations for the employee in the upcoming year.

If treated with care and thoughtfulness, the right employee evaluation can be a meaningful experience for you and the employee alike. Take advantage of this chance to use the time you are sitting with an employee as a valuable one-on-one coaching opportunity.

Tags: employee evaluations performance evaluation
Category: Employee Evaluations

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