Employee evaluations are dreaded by both managers and staff alike, but they are a necessary evil. There is no way to get around the fact that they are stressful to everyone involved, but steps can be taken to reduce the apprehension. Here are a few strategies on how to improve your evaluation process.
1. Once a Year Is Not Enough
Employee evaluations are typically held once a year, and for an event that is supposed to summarize a year, they are often much shorter than they need to be. This can result in a skewed view of an employee’s work, since it is likely that more recent events will be the freshest in the minds of the evaluating staff. A more reasonable schedule would be quarterly reviews, but at the very least there should be more than one evaluation a year.
2. Separate Evaluations
Reviews are held for two purposes that are at odds with each other: evaluating if an employee deserves any pay modifications, and encouraging good behavior while correcting any issues. In the same vein that multiple reviews help provide a clearer image of the employee’s performance, by scheduling specific reviews for salary reasons and others for performance correction, both can be done to a higher degree of effect.
3. Do Not Avoid Confrontation
Some people will go to great lengths to ensure that they are viewed in a positive light. A person giving an evaluation can be tempted to downplay negatives or to exaggerate positives. This is counterproductive to the purpose of evaluations, and it is unfair to all of your employees. Not addressing any concerns properly can result in their continuance, resulting in a worse environment for the employees and less productivity for the company.
4. Do Not Focus on Negatives
Just as some evaluators can be too nice, many will focus far too much on the problems an employee has. Some employees may only present aspects that need correction, but for the majority there will be both positive and negative issues. As mentioned above, do not avoid bringing up negatives, but do not spend the entire evaluation focusing on them. This can give the illusion that you are not aware of any beneficial things the employee has done, which discourages them from continuing to do so.
5. Read Over the Information Beforehand
The employee’s profile should be brought to the interview for the purposes of double-checking facts, not for the purpose of spending a minute or two in silence as you read over it while the employee becomes steadily more nervous. It helps if you already have a working relationship with them and have kept up to date on their progress between evaluations. Being as specific as possible will also give the impression that you are well informed and your opinion of their work history is valid. That said, it can be potentially beneficial to make an employee who needs correction more nervous, but you should not be doing it without a purpose in mind.