Four Tips for Better Employee Evaluations

January 11th, 2019

Improving your evaluation process can have a cascading impact on the success of both your team and your company overall. Smarter evaluations leave employees feeling motivated to succeed, they place employees on a clearly marked path to higher productivity, and then generate goodwill, since they let each employee know they are observed, known, and cared about. This feeling boosts retention, retention boosts teamwork, and teamwork brings success. Start this positive spiral by taking these four steps.

Positivity wins, negativity loses … every time.

When you scold or lecture a child, you might accomplish something meaningful or even life-saving (depending on the personality of the child). A sentence like “Never run into the street again, do you hear me?” has a place in child-rearing. But sentences like these have no place at all in a professional environment. Workers are not children. Review your words, both spoken and written, and remove anything that comes across as angry, personally critical, demeaning or threatening. This includes statements that attack the person instead of the action, for example “You aren’t good at this” instead of “You haven’t learned how to do this yet. Let’s get you the training/exposure/mentoring you need.”

Keep feedback informal and frequent.

Company policy may dictate one formal review process per year. But to make this process more effective, spend the entire year providing real-time, informal feedback on the employee’s progress and actions. Don’t watch them make a mistake in June and wait until December to officially criticize them for it. The annual review should formalize the setting of specific, measurable, actionable goals for the year ahead, based on the victories and lessons of the year just past.

Let the employee know why they (specifically) are valued here.

Avoid treating employees like indistinguishable warm bodies in chairs. Even if the job requires minimal training or experience, don’t let the employee feel dispensable. Show respect for the job and show respect for the person who holds it. Remind them why they were hired over other applicants, emphasize the importance of the role, explain the company’s hopes for them, and let them know your goal is to maintain a happy and mutually beneficial relationship. Make this clear during moments of both constructive criticism and praise. If you disrespect the person or devalue the job, expect turnover.

Set a high bar and expect the same.

Treat the employee with calm, professional positivity … and expect the same. Don’t open the door to awkward, angry, apologetic or obsequious behavior. Carefully choose the accomplishments and mistakes you decide to highlight and the terms you use to describe the employee’s journey to success. Don’t follow any turn in the conversation that slides the mood toward personal blame, shame, anger, gloating, empty promises on either side, or fear. Stay cool and collected.

For more on how to get the most out of your review process and prevent post-review turnover, contact the experts at PSU.

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