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

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 is to continue to get better – 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.

  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 and 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 (dates and exactly what happened) the better.

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 employee needs to hear what you have to say – so it may help to present the news in a good news, bad news and more good news format. That’s what is called 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.

5. Listen to their feedback.

This 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 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 I had told him 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! 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.


What’s wrong with a Holiday Bonus?

What’s wrong with a Holiday Bonus?

Everyone likes to get a little extra cash in their “work stocking” every year ..  Right?dreamstime_m_26988968

So what could be wrong with that? Holiday bonuses can actually cause more problems than you may have thought of.

Here are a few pitfalls of Holiday Bonuses:

  1. Expectations – Holiday bonuses quickly become the expectation of the employee – leading to the feeling of entitlement. The first year you award a bonus, or the last year you awarded a bonus, you set the standard for the amount, as well as the expectation that the employees will receive one every year and the amount will be the same, or at least very similar. If one year, you are for some reason unable to pay bonuses, the employees are shocked and disappointed, maybe even disgruntled.
  1. Mixed Messages – Holiday bonuses can mean different things for the business owner than they do to the employees. Employees may think of the Holiday bonus as a gift from the boss. The boss may consider it a reward for performance and they are awarding them because the company had a good year and the boss wants to share in the profits. The problem with the difference in meanings is back to #1, expectations and see # 4, reward for hard work.
  1. Compliance Problems – Companies often don’t pay bonuses in compliance with IRS regulations. Unless the bonus is minimal – you will have to pay taxes on the money. Here is where you can find some details from the IRS https://www.irs.gov/government-entities/federal-state-local-governments/de-minimis-fringe-benefits.
  1. Confusion – Be careful not to confuse a Holiday bonus with reward for performance. Sometimes even the business owner is not clear about what the bonus is for. If the employee receives a one-time per year payout and the payout is based on performance it is probably a performance bonus not a Holiday gift. It can be easy to mix the two, after all it is the Holiday Season – and the problem is that the employee doesn’t associate their performance with the amount of the bonus – but the boss does. In this case, the employee doesn’t realize the reward was earned by their hard work and that they are likely able to influence the amount for the next year by working harder and performing better.
  1. Gift & Reward Catch-All: The Holiday bonus can be a catch-all for all rewards throughout the year. Here’s the holiday gift, Happy Holidays. And here’s your reward for hard work, a performance bonus and yes, it is also what should be thought of as an increase in pay for the year. In this case, the employee could be working at a job for 5 years, stuck at the same pay rate and rewarded with a Holiday gift or bonus. The employee is at risk for being scooped up by the competition because his/her base pay is low. Top that off with the employee feeling they have been treated unfairly, because in their mind, they have never received a raise – and the employee is out the door to your competitor.

Here’s my suggestion:christmas-gifts

Give your employees a turkey or a ham – or a small bonus – less than $1,000 as a Holiday Gift. You can base the amount on the length of service of the employee and of course, your budget.

In January, after your financials are wrapped up for the year, give employees a performance bonus if you have the funds that year and tell them it is based on company profit and their performance.

Complete a written performance review on all of your employees at least annually and consider whether their performance warrants an increase in their pay rate or not. When considering the pay increase, which is based on performance, also consider where the employees’ pay rate falls as compared to similar jobs in your industry and their years of experience. Make corrections in the pay rates if needed, for your top performing employee’s!

Finally, if you are guilty of one of the pitfalls above, start over and communicate clearly to your employees your plan going forward and how they can influence their pay rate in the future.

 Happy Holidays!

The Deadline is Looming for Employers

December 1st Overtime Rules are changing – are you READY?

Effective December 1st employees who are considered exempt from overtime must be paid at least $47,476 per year. Here is what you need to know.

Under the old Department of Labor regulations, the minimum salary a worker had to earn to qualify as exempt from overtime, was $455 per week or $23,660 per year. Effective December 1, 2016 the base salary increases to $913 per week or $47,476. If you pay a bonus, up to 10% of the salary threshold can be satisfied by the non-discretionary bonus.  There is no option for part-time or half-time “exempt employees” – the minimum salary must be $913 per week.

Not everyone who makes $47,476 per year qualifies for the exempt from overtime status. There are criteria established by the Department of Labor the job must meet in order to be considered exempt from overtime. These rules have NOT changed but many employers are risking their business because they don’t know what they don’t know.  Generally, these include:

  • Exempt Executive – the primary duty is to manage a department or subdivision of the company. Customarily directs the work of two or more other employees. Has the authority to hire and fire  legal-or-illegal-with-checkmarkemployees.
  • Exempt Administrative – Primary duty is to perform office or non-manual work. Exercises discretion and independent judgement with respect to matters of significance.
  • Exempt Professional – Learned professional such as doctors, lawyers, physician assistants and some accountants.
  • Creative Professional – Musicians, actors, artists and writers.
  • Computer-related Professional – systems analyst, computer programmers, software engineer or similarly skilled professionals.
  • Outside Sales – Sales people who are customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place of business while selling or obtaining orders or contracts for services.

If you have employees who are not being paid overtime at time and one half their regular rate for hours worked over 40 each week AND they are not making at least $47,476 annually you will likely be out of compliance and subject to fines and penalties – including back-pay for at least 2 years.

Here’s how to make sure you aren’t at risk of those penalties and fines.

Do an audit of your jobs and the pay for each job. Review the job descriptions (make sure you have these on each job) and make sure they meet the criteria for the new threshold if they are exempt. AND make sure they are exempt – meeting the criteria from the Department of Labor.

If you have employees who are not at the salary threshold, you will need to either bring them up to the threshold OR convert them to hourly employees. Once they are hourly, you will need to pay them overtime for hours over 40 per week.

Have questions or if you would like an audit from Wise HR Partnerships to help you make this determination, call me at 704-650-8684.

Submitted By: Cristy Carroll, MA, SPHR

Owner of Wise HR Partnerships

Electrician and Electrician Helper Job Opening

Position Open for: Electricians and Electrician Helper

You’re energetic, love solving problems and interacting with customers. You are reliable, and on time and approach your job with a sense of urgency. You enjoy setting goals and meeting them – and being rewarded with bonuses and promotions for working hard. You like to make sure the job is done right and strive to provide superior customer service. You understand that a job well done is not only about the technical expertise but also about the great service you provide, respecting customers’ time and personal property.

This residential, electrical company is individually owned and they enjoy seeing their employees grow, learn and thrive! They are a growing residential and commercial electrical company located in Mooresville.

You are:

  • Self-motivated and able to work with little supervision.
  • Resourceful and love to solve problems.
  • Always professional and a great communicator.
  • A team player, get along well with others and do your part.
  • Trustworthy
  • Organized and detail oriented.

You have:

  • Great electrical and technical skills
  • At least 3 years’ experience as a residential and commercial electrician.
  • Familiar with the National Electric Code
  • A valid drivers’ license and a good driving record.
  • Experience installing, diagnosing and troubleshooting Arc-Fault breakers and Ground=Fault breaker and outlets.
  • State license holder or journeyman card is a plus.


If this sounds like you, and if you live in the Mooresville area, we’d love to talk with you. Please apply by sending your resume to recruiter@wisehrpartnerships.com. If you don’t have a resume, send me an email and I’ll send you an application form.

What do we do if employees are clocking in early? The supervisor did not approve the overtime – it is a bad and expensive habit.

What do we do if employees are clocking in early? The supervisor did not approve the overtime – it is a bad and expensive habit.   What do we do?

employees goofing off at work

Clocking in early can become a habit and a way for employees to add a little to their paychecks. Going unchecked – it can take away from the profits of the business.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, the laws that regulate compensable time and minimum wage and such, employers are required to pay employees for working. If the employees are not working but are just hanging out – they should not clock in before they begin work. If they are clocked in but not working – it would be tough to prove that the time should NOT be paid. Here is what to do:

  1. Have a policy that states that overtime must be pre-approved by the supervisor. This policy should be a part of the employee handbook, and the employee should sign that they received the handbook and understand that the policies are about them.
  2. Discipline employees for working overtime that has not been pre-approved if you have the policy in place.
  3. Send employees home early during that week so that they don’t go over 40 hours. Remember- overtime is over 40 in a workweek, not over 8 hours in a day. That doesn’t always work out well for employers, usually we’re trying to cover a shift-sending them home early doesn’t provide you the coverage you need.

Keep in mind:

  1. You are still required to pay employees if they are clocked in – your policy cannot be to not pay if the overtime worked was not pre-approved.
  1. It is not a good idea to change their time card – make sure the supervisor and the employee sign off on a changed time card.
  1. Watch out for employees who aren’t “officially working” but answer the work phone or answer questions or do anything else that could be considered work. If they are at their work station you should pay them for the time.

If employees are clocking in early so they can get paid overtime that is not authorized, they should be disciplined for working overtime without authorization from the supervisor. Pay them, but discipline them

Copyright 2016 Wise HR Partnerships

704.650.8684 | 442 S Main Street | Davidson, NC 28036