Mutually Beneficial Employee Evaluations
December 20, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Too often managers treat employee evaluations as just one more item on a to-do list that’s way too long, while employees think of evaluations as a hurdle they need to jump to get to a raise or promotion. Both viewpoints sell the employee evaluation process short. At its best, an effective evaluation process helps individuals on both sides of the desk understand how to help each other achieve individual and corporate goals. It goes without saying that all employee evaluations should be completed thoughtfully and on time to avoid creating feelings of resentment.
Fair and Objective Employee Evaluations
Aside from being on time, an evaluation process will only be effective for manager and employee if it is perceived as fair and objective, so setting up a framework for rating skills, tasks and contributions is an imperative first step to developing a process that provides mutual benefit.
Creating this mutual benefit process takes time and trust. It will never happen if the manager haphazardly fills out the review form in the last few moments before the deadline or if the employee feels that any discussion of weakness means a lost job or a personal vendetta. Mutual benefit will only happen when the evaluation is fair and objective, so there must be a framework or structure to the process that lets the employee know that performance is rated objectively.
Employee Evaluations for Raises and Bonuses
Employee evaluations are used in most organizations as justification for raises and bonuses. All organizations have limited financial resources, and using the evaluation process helps to allocate the resources in a way that advances the company’s budgetary objectives. This is a legitimate use for employee evaluations, but it shouldn’t be their only purpose.
An evaluation can be much more than simply a payroll justification if it’s used to help the company meet its goals and to provide opportunities for employees to grow in ways that meet personal objectives.
In some cases, linking the evaluation process and the salary discussion too closely can actually limit the evaluation’s ability to improve performance. Instead of helping to grow trust and understanding between the employee and the manager, introducing money to the equation adds an emotional charge that’s hard to overcome.
To help separate the evaluation process from the employee’s financial concern, many experts recommend separating the review process from the salary increase process. Even if the two processes are tightly linked, the manager might want to try to find a way to separate the performance and money conversations, even if only by a few days or hours.
Capitalize on Strengths and Compensate for Weaknesses
This separation allows the manager and employee to have open discussions about the employee’s strengths and weaknesses. The two people can brainstorm about ways to capitalize on the strengths and compensate for the weaknesses while the manager and employee work together on making the weaknesses either a neutral or positive part of the employee’s skill set.
Review Goals and Objectives
In an ideal world, every employee would always know what the company’s strategic objectives are, and the role the employee plays in achieving those objectives. In the real world, this may not be true. Managers should pledge to have discussions with employees about company objectives and employee performance on a frequent basis so that employees know where they stand and how they contribute at all times. This reduces the stress of an annual evaluation for the employee, and ensures that there are no surprises.
Managers should consider the evaluation process as an opportunity to recap the objectives and overall performance, as well as ensuring that the employee understands how his or her performance affects the company objectives.
Helping the employee understand how performance affects the bottom line puts the rest of the discussion in perspective. The conversation shifts from a hard-to-take focus on discussing weaknesses to building a mutually beneficial understanding of ways that performance helps the organization as a whole.
Of course, not every employee’s contribution is directly traceable to the company’s bottom line, but every employee’s contribution matters in a very real way. An evaluation process that is structured to promote understanding of shared objectives becomes a mutually beneficial process that is welcomed rather than dreaded.