Performance evaluations can be one of your easiest and most useful tools as a manager. They can be an official “pat on the back” for a job well done. They can be notification of a behavior that needs to change. They can also be a step in the corrective action process.
However, not all managers are comfortable writing or delivering performance reviews, so they often get put off. In addition, performance reviews tend to be one of the first things to fall between the cracks when it gets busy and other “more important” things come up.
Having a regular and open performance evaluation process will make it less threatening, for both employees and managers. Remember the following points to make your reviews as painless and effective as possible:
Tell the truth: This is the time to put all of your cards on the table with your employee. Make sure to include the good and the bad; generally employees are going to have some of each. It is a good practice to use a somewhat standardized form, covering areas that you expect of all employees, along with an area for expectations specific to that position. A well-balanced representation of both “sides” — recognizing their strengths as well as their weaknesses — is going to make it easier for that employee to take the areas where they might need to improve to heart and make the changes, rather than getting defensive.
No surprises: An employee should not be hearing anything in a performance evaluation for the first time. Continuous communication is vital in an employer-employee relationship, and in the smooth operation of your business. Requests for improvement, reiteration of expectations, and “pats on the back” should not be saved for an annual review, but should be included.
Focus on success: The focus of any performance review or corrective action document should be to make the employee successful in their job. Rather than concentrating on what’s wrong, concentrate on what needs to happen to make it right.
Don’t be late: Many companies have an annual performance evaluation schedule. Whether all reviews get done during a specified time of year, or whether they are based on the employee’s anniversary date, present the evaluations when you say you’ll present the evaluations. If you don’t do what you say you’ll do, how can you expect that of your employees?
Allow time and space: Adequate time must be allowed for both the writing and the presentation of performance evaluations. They should be presented in a private office or conference room, not on the warehouse floor or in a cubicle. This will allow it to be a more relaxed meeting and encourage two-way dialogue in the process.
Performance evaluations are as valuable a tool in your organization as you make them. Use them to your advantage.
Sandra Villegas, SPHR, is a human resources Specialist with Associated Employers.