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What To do and What Not to do When Evaluating Employee Performance

Criticism can be hard to take sometimes, even if it is well intentioned and especially if it is not well delivered.  The goal when evaluating employee performance is to continue to get better both individually and company-wide. Sometimes for the company to improve, the manager needs to improve. Here are some tips on how to provide feedback on a written performance evaluation and in the meeting. Providing good feedback will result in improving the company profits.

how to evaluate employee performance

  1. Look at the entire year – not just the last 3 months.

    Sometimes it can be difficult to recall the good and bad events over the entire year so it is good to make notes.  Put them in the employee file so you don’t have to rely totally on your memory. The more specific you can be in your notes about employee performance  (dates and exactly what happened) the better.  Which leads us to written notes!

  2. Put it in writing.

    If you discuss performance with your employees on a quarterly basis – that is great! If you discuss performance semi-annually, that is great too. Make sure to put the discussion in writing in a format that allows you to track progress or the lack of progress.

  3. Try the sandwich approach when delivering the news.

    The goal is for the employee to hear what you have to say during the employee performance review.. One way to increase that possibility is to present the news in a good news, bad news and more good news format. This is the “sandwich” approach. Caution – make sure the “bad news message” doesn’t get lost in the sandwich!

  4. Talk about development and set specific goals.

    This is a great time to talk about ways you want the employee to grow and how you can assist with that development. This may include additional inside training (who will teach and when will this happen) or outside training (online or classes?). Put a plan together for the development and set the expectations.The SMART approach to Goal Setting

  5. Listen to their feedback.

    This performance evaluation should be a discussion, which requires listening and working together to solve the problems and plan the next steps.

  6. Be specific about how to improve performance.

    Whenever possible, measure the employee’s performance in an objective way. For example, we had 5 customer service complaints resulted from your area of responsibility and we need to get that number to 1. OR you are able to make this widget in 3 hours and our customers need it in 2 hours.
    Stating that the employee has poor customer service is not helpful, especially if they believe otherwise. So be specific by stating;  “when you told that customer that their order would not be ready for 3 weeks, he was upset because he was told it would be ready in 2 weeks. The result was that they were upset and thought we were not keeping our word. What I need from you is to check with me before you tell the customer no so we can work together to make this happen and make the customer happy.”

  7. Use a good evaluation tool.

    The evaluation tool make all the difference when evaluating employee performance.  It must be job specific and it must make the feedback clear and communicate to the employee how they get from “needs improvement” to “excellent.”  (Wise HR Partnerships can work with you to develop the best tool.)

  8. Pay attention to the space.

    The space you choose for the discussion should be private and make sure you don’t get interrupted! Get away from your desk if possible. Being on a more equal footing helps with the conversation, offering a more problem solving, discussion provoking and less “authoritative” setting.

  9. Consider having the employee complete a self-evaluation.

    Self-evaluations can be helpful to get an idea of what the employee is thinking about his/her performance before you sit down to give the feedback. The self-evaluation should not be exactly the same as the evaluation you do because it can create an immediate adversarial environment and that is exactly what you don’t want.

  10. Watch your language.

    The discussion should be about job performance, don’t make it personal – be professional.


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