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Step 4 - Evaluate and Appraise employee performance
Giving feedback, whether positive or constructive, can truly be effective if done timely and correctly. Effective feedback is specific, not general. For example, you would not just want to give positive feedback like, “Good job on fixing the problem.” You would want to go into specifics like, “Good job on the troubleshooting skills you used to determine that the problem was a customer router misconfiguration.” Make this positive feedback timely, specific, and frequent. Recognition for effective performance is a powerful motivator. Most people want to obtain more recognition, so recognition fosters more of the appreciated actions.
The same holds true if work done was not up to standards. In this case you would make a constructive observation. Constructive feedback is not criticism, but alerts to an area in which performance could improve. It is descriptive and should always be directed to the action, not the individual or team. The main purpose of constructive feedback is to help people understand where they stand in relation to expected, and productive, job behavior.
By sharing information and observations, when done sincerely and honestly, will help the individual or team on specific actions or behavior that they can do something about. It is a good idea to approach the situation by saying something like, “I would like to give some feedback on how you troubleshoot if that is ok with you?” This way it will come off looking like you want to help rather than scold. After you have provided the feedback, make sure they fully understood what you said by asking them a question or two or by observing their behavior.
Employee evaluations can be a positive, encouraging, and a good synopsis on how they are doing in the many categories of their job responsibilities. On the other hand, it can also be considered a waste of time and doesn’t work if neither you nor your employees take it seriously and just go through the motions. Many managers hate having to do these evaluations. Managers usually just want to get the necessary info together as fast as possible and are happy it only comes once or twice a year. Depending on the amount of employees you are evaluating, this can be quite a big task. However, if your department has been managed right, it could become a rewarding experience. Evaluations, also called performance appraisals, are important and most companies perform them so they will be discussed here.
Performance reviews can be an effective tool but only if you and your staff take it seriously. This is not just a snapshot of how they are doing at the moment of the appraisal, but a review of the past 6 months or year. You need to have the necessary data to back the appraisal, and everyone needs to understand what is expected and how they are appraised.
In general, most appraisals cover the set goals and objectives including:
Volume or production levels
Thoroughness and attention to detail
Attendance and punctuality
and Final notes
When developing a performance review:
Be sure to meet with your employees and review the performance appraisal goals, values, and expectations.
Meet with them at the beginning of the year or evaluation period and establish the timeline. Most companies perform these appraisals once or twice a year.
Make sure you and your supervisors have detailed records of each employee’s performance. Outline the recent accomplishments as well as improvements needed. You need all of this data for the review itself and to back up the review if questioned.
When it's time to do the performance review, make it a priority to eliminate any employee anxiety. Don’t put it off.
Once the review has been discussed, be sure to come to terms together on the evaluation rating and goals going forward. Short-term and long-term goals should be established whether for growth or improvements.
End the review on a positive note. If there are any issues, be sure you have discussed and offered training, counseling, and coaching to help improve on the needed skills and remedy any deficiencies.
You want the review to be thought of as professional and an inspirational experience. Reserve plenty of time for the meeting with no interruptions. If performed correctly, your employees will feel you truly understand their strengths and weaknesses, and will leave with a positive outlook for the future. It will also establish your credibility as an effective leader. To help create a successful outcome, here are 19 valuable tips to think about when performing employee evaluations:
Evaluations keep a written record to support pay increases. Documentation of the employee’s performance lets the employee officially know where they stand in the company and what you think about their performance. You want your team to feel like you really do want to take the time to let them know what they are all about. It will inspire them to perform better and they will respect you more as manager and leader. The goal is to make them feel as if they have had special attention, whether it is praising or encouraging. This same mindset should always be used for everyone you evaluate. It is their scorecard to see how well they did and if tasks were achieved or completed on time. It can also be thought of as a report card. The evaluation process makes sure that you are utilizing the talent in your organization that not only benefits the employee, but you and the company as well. So you can see, even though these types of appraisals are usually thought of as a waste of time for many managers, there is some important underlying value.
In most cases evaluations have a set of core job objectives and corporate values. The core objectives would basically refer to the overall job performance expectations. The corporate values refers to open communication such as working with others to produce the best result, a caring culture treating others with mutual respect, or unmatched service & support taking personal responsibility for customer satisfaction. They are based on a scale of something like 1 to 5 with 5 being best. There can also be statements such as “exceeds expectations, meets expectations, and below expectations.” These ratings would be for each job objective and each corporate value along with an overall score.
Appraisals, at the very least, lets the employee know that someone at work is thinking about their job performance. When employees know they are working hard and doing a great job, they want it put in writing. Your employees should be well aware of what is expected of them as long as you put the lessons learned in this course into place. This is because you have communicated, coached, and guided your individuals and team to achieve their goals, objectives and values. This will also make it much easier to create the appraisals since all of the goals, objectives, tasks, responsibilities, and corporate values have already been well communicated to the team.
Hopefully because you have managed the department so well , you will have mostly “meets” or “exceeds” expectations. However, this does not mean they all “walk on water.” If you give a score of “exceeds expectations” or a “5 out of 5”, they truly need to be considered your star performers. A common mistake is rating people too high, no matter how they performed, which does not give a clear way for improvement. It does not mean you should be necessarily be giving more negative reviews, just keep it balanced. If they truly are a star performer, give them top marks.
Be sure your supervisors also follow these guidelines. If they are performing the reviews with their direct staff, then they need to have the same mindset as you have. In most cases, depending on the size of the company, you would review your supervisors and you supervisors would review their direct reports.
If you expect or anticipate complications with a particular employee performance review… You need to make sure you have all documentation and data to back up your evaluation. If they are confrontational, and indeed not happy with the appraisal or the amount of the raise given, make sure you stay open and understanding. Prepare to discuss and stay professional at all times. Do not be confrontational or take a hard-line approach. You do, however, need to be decisively direct. Stay focused to the points at hand. Have the confidence that you have truly previously communicated your vision, goals, objectives, and values to the individuals and team, and have coached all you could have up to this point. Stand by the fact that your appraisal will be fair and accurate, and that you're not coming across like you are on a witch-hunt.
If you have an employee who is performing below expectations… You need to find ways to coach and provide training for improvement. This could be because they are still fairly new, were previously a good employee who is losing their way, or recently promoted and still growing. You might want to give a 30 or 60-day action plan to improve along with a follow up meeting to discuss. If, however, you have an employee who is just non-retainable even though you’ve coached all you could, repeatedly spoke to them about their bad attitude, or their performance is just not acceptable anymore, it is time to terminate the employee. You should deal with this as soon as possible. It does neither of you good to prolong the issue. Lesson 5 deals with this subject in much more detail.
Whatever you do, make sure you complete the performance appraisals on time. You should even strive to be ahead of schedule if possible. It will not only make you look efficient as a leader who cares about their department, it also makes HR and upper management happy. Some people really do care about these evaluations and work hard all year just for this moment. This is another time to really thank the good workers, and try to get the bad workers to become inspired within themselves. The last thing you want to do, is do an “11th hour” rush or miss the deadline. Whenever money is involved, you need to do all you can as quickly and efficiently as possible. The good news is if you are consistent and have communicated your vision and goals, you should be able to complete these in a timely fashion. Most companies already have an appraisal form for you to use along with directions.
It is better to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Start out with the positive. People tend to take the positives lightly, but the negatives heavily. If you start off with a negative, the positive will practically be ignored and forgotten. Only bring up the negative if it relates to the performance review. If the negative is performance related, this would be a perfect opportunity to coach the individual and create actions to improve.
When discussing appraisals, be sure to tailor each one to each person’s personality. You should know what makes them tick and to get the most out of the evaluation. A “cookie cutter” approach just won’t cut it… You want to stay consistent with the documentation and expectations for all, but unique with the verbal presentation for the individual. See the managing different personalities section in this lesson for more on how to deal with particular personalities.
Make an outline of the significant items to cover. By creating a cheat sheet of sorts, you can be sure to hit the important areas like:
Important contributions the employee made to the company
Making or missing a specific goal
Potential growth possibilities
It’s a “bit of an art” to encourage someone with poor performance. During the evaluation, when you are dealing with a poor performance related situation, stay confident but not intimidating, serious but not scary, and make your point but not be disheartening. You also cannot be sheepish and intimidated such as hiding behind jokes, passing it off as no big deal, etc. If you act like it’s not a big deal, even unintentionally, then your employees will think it is no big deal and will continue to perform badly.
Do not compare the employee to other employees. This is demoralizing, hurts teamwork and will not accomplish anything but antagonism towards the compared employee.
Encourage open communication. You want your employees to always feel comfortable to be able to talk and share any issues, concerns or ideas. You should welcome as much input as possible. The same goes for you as manager towards your employees. Be open and not defensive if your employees make comments like, “I’m not advancing quick enough” or “my salary is not at the level as the work I perform.” Use the skills taught throughout this course to be able to communicate efficiently, no matter what the topic.
Treat each appraisal with the same mindset and professionalism of a job interview. You have to always keep in mind about any possible anti-discriminatory issues that can arise. Although they have already been through the interview process at one point, and you most likely feel much more comfortable with them than you did in the beginning, you still need to be “politically correct” and careful on what you say and how you act.
Stay on track and keep to the specifics. You have to know when to move on to the next subject once the point was made, discussed, or debated. There is nothing wrong with a good debate, but when you hit a brick wall or the subject has been exhausted, there is no use in continuing on with that particular conversation. You need to make the decision to move on with confidence. Try to find a nice segue into the next talking point.
Focus on the significance of each success and failure. This should be looked at as it pertains to the company’s possible successes and failures. The importance you add to each objective looking at the big picture adds more impact.
Always make sure the employee leaves knowing what is expected in the future. This goes for both good and bad performance reviews. Just saying something like, “Good Job, keep it up,” is not enough. You need to embellish what is expected in the future besides “keep up the good work.” You should have a plan to enhance the individual’s goals and keep them wanting to continually strive to improve. You’ve got to always be looking forward and never just settling on the “status quo.”
Always be sure you did everything you could before terminating an employee based on the performance appraisal. Sometimes it comes down to the point where there is just no saving an employee based on such poor performance. You do, however, truly need to make sure you’ve done all you can to coach the person, help improve their skills, or help with any personal issues. If you can look yourself in the mirror with no trepidations, then you know you did all you could and are making the right decision.
Points to keep in mind:
If you have an employee who is disruptive, has a bad attitude, or is a “bad apple…” you need to deal with the person as soon as possible. It only takes one bad attitude to spoil the team. You should never pretend this problem does not exist or hopes it somehow corrects itself. You will lose the respect of your team if you do not deal with the situation. Bring the person into your office without making a big scene, and make it as private as possible. Be upfront and discuss what you are seeing and how important it is to have the whole team working in “harmony.” This also goes for the employee who is not performing up to standards. Don’t wait until it comes to the point of no return. Many times issues blow over without incident and things get worked out without intervention, however, you need to be aware of any growing concerns, especially if it affects team performance. Lesson 5 will cover how to deal with problematic employees in more detail.
Measure the goals and show proof. You need to visually show your staff on whether or not you hit your targeted goals with statistical reports, customer surveys, or any other type of pertinent data. By showing the results in your weekly or monthly team meetings, the clear directions and specific time frames you give to them will have more meaning. Examples of these types of reports are shown in lesson 2.
Make sure they feel accountable and take responsibility for their work. You want them to feel proud of what they do, and not take any short cuts or perform sloppy work. You need to instill into them that they should take pride in their work. They should also know that poor work will not be tolerated and that they will be held accountable.
Lets face it; it’s mostly about the money… When it comes to appraisals, sure it’s important for you to get your point across, praise and encourage, and let the employee know what‘s expected in the future, but when it comes down to it, it’s all about the money. If possible, it would be best to be able to discuss the merit increase during the appraisal meeting. It is usually an hourly increase based on the overall evaluation score, which is normally a certain percentage increase of around 3% to 5%. It can be as high as 10%, or as low as 1%. Sometimes it is nothing. In many cases you have to wait a few weeks after the initial appraisal to inform them about the merit increase. Just let them know to be patient and that you will get back to them the moment you have the information. Also, always make sure you let each and every employee know they should never discuss the increase amount with their fellow employees. This goes with their hourly rate as well.