Employee evaluations are a challenging but essential practice that can help employers and their employees align on shared goals, review past challenges, celebrate accomplishments and set forth a game plan for future improvements.
A well-conducted employee review can help an employee thrive in their career, and help employers get better quality work from their team members. Employee evaluations are also an opportunity to course-correct problems, lay the groundwork for a team member’s advancement within the company and create helpful documentation for HR concerns.
However, poorly conducted evaluations can leave workers feeling confused, dejected and unengaged.
Ensure your performance evaluations benefit you and your employees by trying these six pieces of advice.
Prepare all feedback ahead of time
Don’t walk into an evaluation empty-handed, and don’t plan to fill out the employee evaluation form during your meeting with the employee. Instead, take time to compile your thoughts and feedback in advance and use your evaluation document as a framework for the meeting. By having all comments formulated beforehand, you can ensure the meeting stays on track, and you don’t miss any critical points.
Keep your remarks clear and concise
If you’re not direct and transparent when delivering employee evaluations, you risk employees leaving the meeting with confusion around goals or misconceptions about your expectations. The best way to guarantee clarity is to use specifics whenever possible. For instance, if you’ve given an employee a low score for time management, share examples of missed deadlines, or times when other teammates had to pick up their slack.
The same holds true for goal-setting, too. Make sure each goal includes a time-frame and method of measurement, so employees know exactly how you’ll determine whether they’ve succeeded or failed.
Provide employees with a copy of the completed evaluation form
While employees often enter performance reviews hoping to hear news about a potential raise or promotion, having the opportunity to receive honest feedback about their professional performance is something most workers value, too. By issuing employees a copy of their completed evaluation form – or at least a portion of the form – you’ll give your team members something to reference and help them stay on track to make the improvements you’ve outlined.
Keep employee review meetings a two-way conversation
Rather than lecturing an employee on the many things they need to improve and then sending them on their way, make sure the meeting is an open conversation. Give employees a chance to share their self-assessment, such as their greatest strengths, their biggest challenges and where they believe they should improve in the month, quarter or year ahead.
If an employee is quiet and doesn’t seem comfortable speaking up, engage them by asking questions such as:
- What’s the one accomplishment from the review period that makes you most proud?
- Where do you think you’ve made the most progress since your last review?
- In what areas would you say you need the most improvement?
- How can I support you in meeting your goals?
End with a focus on the future
Discussing negatives, like recent failures or areas where employees have scored poorly, are uncomfortable for both managers and employees – but they must be addressed. After you’ve discussed these things, it’s time to shift towards the future, outline new goals and share your plans for improvement. Be sure employees understand you’re on their side, you want them to succeed and you’re always available to chat through their challenges and concerns.
By ending on a forward-focused and positive note, the employee is more likely to leave the meeting feeling motivated and hopeful rather than criticized and discouraged.
Hold multiple evaluations throughout the year
While many employers conduct employee performance evaluations on an annual basis – often to assess whether or not an employee’s achievements merit a promotion or raise – holding weekly, monthly, or quarterly informal review sessions are beneficial for employees and employers. More frequent reviews help alleviate some of the pressure from the annual employee evaluation, get employees accustomed to discussing their achievements and challenges and make receiving feedback less intimidating.
Plus, bringing up areas of improvement as soon as you witness a mistake provides employees the opportunity to change their behaviour immediately, rather than continuing the same misstep again and again until the next scheduled formal review.
Conducting a successful employee evaluation requires balancing direct criticism with praise and recognition, and setting challenging yet attainable goals to help employees grow. While maintaining this equilibrium can be tricky, giving straightforward and honest feedback – both positive and negative – will stimulate action and inspire team members to improve. By following these tips, you can open the lines of communication with employees, help employees excel in their careers and boost performance across your team or business.