Evaluations are one of this task items that managers and staff must complete, at least in the typical corporate office. Ideally, evaluations are used as tools to better both the employee and employer. At worst, it gives no feedback and just a platform to complain. If you are one of those types of managers that aspire to give feedback and is honestly wanting feedback to grow yourself and your company, then a proper evaluation session may be that win-win solution for that annual event.
Like most management topics, there are many opinions and theories on the best way to manage evaluations. Here is a simple outline that can be applied to most situations:
Step 1: Prepare Well
Seems intuitive but there are many managers who fail to properly prepare. Preparation for the evaluation comes right after the last evaluation period. Managers will need to keep records and documents that will help give feedback. This is important to avoid short term bias where managers only remember and evaluation the past few months or even weeks as the past has already been forgotten and forgiven.
Common tools used to help document (since the pandemic, we have been relying more on online tools):
- Google Documents: Documents since it will be online and easily accessible
- Google Calendar: Helps give chronological events at a glance (e.g. attendance/tardiness, project completion, etc)
- Google Drive: Keep copies of excellent, and not so excellent, examples of works such as emails or memo or presentations
Step 2: Review Data
After reviewing the data, it is time to assess the person. Assessment typically includes asking questions about the following:
- Productivity: How is this person’s productivity? How has it changed over this year, compared to last year, compared to benchmark and established goals?
- People: How is this person in interacting with others? Unless this person does not interact with others, this is important question as team dynamics can affect company productivity. Is this person’s attitude in alignment with the company culture? Do people want to work with person? Would you hire this person again?
- Perspective: How does this person approach issues and difficulty? How do they approach their work and others? Are they feeling underutilized and wish to have more responsibility? Do they feel overwhelmed and need to offset their labor? Keeping staff engaged and understanding their perspective will help align their competencies with the need of the company.
Step 3: Goal Creation
There’s an entire branch of how to effective create appropriate goals. One of the most common is SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Researching a few goal creating strategies will increase your toolbox as each person may require different approaches, and of course different goals.
Each person is different so the order to discuss goals may vary. For example, chronological goals may be useful in identifying short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. This may help in arrangement of work.
Listing goals in priority help employees not feel overwhelmed. A common malpractice of management is either conflicting or unclear priorities. If everything is important, nothing becomes important. Help the staff become independent and guide them on what they should devote themselves to.
Personal growth goals are important as it shows management cares not just about productivity, but also personal growth. This helps the company for two reasons. First, people should care about people — experience will show that if people feel that the management cares, they will more likely care and be more productive and more involved in problem solving. This will imbue the company culture to be productive. This will also allow employees to feel comfortable in bringing problems and solutions to management. The second reason is expansion and succession planning. At some point, we’ll not be around. That’s a good thing. Ideally, we’ll be moving on to our next chapter. However, as manager’s we need to mentor the next generation as those above us mentored us (or at least tired) .
Step 4: Plan for the evaluation
So now everything has been prepared as much as possible, it’s now time to plan on how the conversation will go. There’s no exact science as each person and each job duty is unique. However, planning the conversation is critical as the manager should have an idea of what points to emphasize, what feedback the employee may have, as well as the end goals of the evaluation.
Prior to evaluations, asking staff to describe their highlights, their issues, and their goals will help guide the evaluation. It also helps sets realistic expectations. Highly recommend having employees involved during evaluation time as it helps increase their engagement and feedback.
Elements to a successful plan would be to include
- Reviewing staff feedback prior to meeting, and anticipating how to address their comments
- Reviewing with employee what went well and what did not
- Requesting the employee to bring examples of their work
- How the management can help with employee and company growth
- What goals would the employee wish to see happen
Other tips that have may help ease the evaluation experience:
- Plan to meet in a meeting room for privacy
- Plan enough time for evaluations so employees and employer does not feel rushed.
- If requesting employee to come prepared, be sure to give at least a few days for employees to prepare
- Start off evaluation with asking what they would want to cover first, and end with asking how they feel to help strengthen the employer and employee relationship
When it comes to annual evaluation, whether you are doing the evaluation or being evaluated (or both for most managers), remember that the goal is to improve everyone. While improvement and creating a win-win situation may be seen as a stretch goal, a successful evaluation will lead to a successful employee and inevitably a successful company.