An employee evaluation is a planned performance review by a supervisor. In a typical employee performance evaluation, they’ll discuss expectations that have been exceeded, met, and fallen short during a previous time period.
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Employee evaluations are also called performance evaluations and usually take place on an annual basis. They are often directly connected with employee compensation and promotions.
Ideally, the manager or supervisor performing the evaluation has been keeping notes throughout the year, so that they may cite specific examples of where an employee is exceeding, and where they need to improve performance.
The manager or supervisor will typically talk about what an employee needs to do in order to improve performance.
The Purpose of an Employee Evaluation:
Employee evaluations help companies and employees take stock of progress toward goals. The can also be useful in helping make decisions on compensation, promotions, terminations, and provide information to support those decisions.
How to Give an Employee Evaluation:
1. Take notes on performance throughout the year.
When important things happen regarding an employee’s performance, you’ll want to take specific notes. Taking notes will help you accomplish several things.
It will make it clear that you’re paying attention during the entire year, not just during the months and weeks that lead up to the review. This helps prevent a culture of employees who are incentivized to work hard during the period just prior to reviews.
It will also give you specific examples to help you back up your points.
Finally, it gives you a chance to improve your overall performance evaluation process. If you take the time to note something, it probably means it’s important enough to give the employee a little feedback right then, so that they can improve, and you’re both on the same page come review time.
If you tell an employee that they need to improve in a certain area of the job, but can’t give examples, they may be skeptical or confused about exactly how they can improve.
2. Know what your goals are for the evaluation.
Go in knowing what you want to get out of the review.
3. Be honest and direct.
Don’t try to sugar-coat feedback. Be clear, honest, and straight-forward about things that need to change or improve.
4. Only make promises you can keep.
Talk to them about future possibilities, but be sure you have the power to make these things happen. Don’t set an employee expectation that you can’t follow through on.
5. Avoid making comparisons between employees.
This can breed unhealthy competition and resentment.
6. Don't pretend to have all the answers.
If an employee asks a question that you cannot answer, don’t try to fake it. No one will lose respect for you if you say, “I don’t know, let me get back to you.” On the other hand, if you give an answer that turns out to be false, you will lose respect and trust.
7. Use an evaluation form for consistency.
You'll want to have an organized and consistent process for evaluating employees. This makes the process fairer and can help your company avoid or defend against discrimination suits in the future.
8. Develop metrics for measuring performance throughout the year.
Having measurable goals helps employees know where they are, and helps you more accurately gauge performance.
How to Measure Employee Performance:
You'll want to develop a few important metrics to help you measure employees. This could be sales revenues, customer ratings, errors, accidents, finished products, or finished projects. Use just a few, and make sure they're tied to clear company goals.
Performance evaluations have the potential to be both helpful and hurtful when it comes to legal matters.
That said, here are some general dos and don’ts that are helpful to know when it comes to employee evaluations and legal issues.
Employee Evaluation Legal Considerations:
Keep notes on employee performance throughout the year. Include dates of incidents, both negative and positive, with a description.
Undo at-will employment. In nearly all states employees work at-will, meaning employers can terminate without a reason. Don't undo this by promising long-term employment.
Talk to employees about issues and give them a chance to improve.
Be inconsistent. Discrimination claims crop up when an employer is perceived as treating people differently in the same situations.
Document your evaluations.
Retaliate against employees who voice concerns about potential legal violations or wage and hour issues.
Annual Performance Evaluation Checklist:
- Employee evaluation form.
- Self-appraisal form.
- Notes on employee job performance.
- Employee job description. (Usually, these will contain goals and expectations).
- Information on company performance for the evaluation period.