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.

Combating Turnover: Don’t Let Talented Employees Slip Away

June 5th, 2012

It’s a frustrating fact that the most valuable candidates—those who are talented and those who are ambitious—are also the ones most likely to be drawn away after an expensive hiring and training process. Human capital is exchanged in an open marketplace, just like most other products and services, and to attract and the retain the best employees, you need to be willing to compete. You also need to be willing to keep a close eye on your company culture.

Here are five of the top reasons for high turnover and a few ways to create a counterforce that can keep valuable employees on your team.

1.    The lure of higher paying offers

First, make sure your pay rates are competitive. This may seem like a no-brainer, but a surprisingly large number of inexperienced small firms simply review their own budgets and set salaries based on what they can afford (or what they choose) to pay. Don’t do this. Investigate your competitor’s rates and the rates for similar jobs in other industries. If you underpay, your savings will be reduced by the constant need to hire and train new staff. If budget restrictions prevent you from paying competitive rates, try to expand your perks and benefits, like health insurance and flex time.

2.    Boredom or stagnation

If a talented employee wants to learn new skills or take on increasing responsibilities, find a way to make this happen or prepare to lose her. If you can’t promote her because there’s simply no higher position available, change her job title and expand her role in any way you can. Be creative. Many surveys show that employees will sometimes forego higher pay in exchange for non-monetary recognition, novel experiences, or the chance to learn new things.

3.    A frustrating company culture

At the end of the day, high turnover is a management responsibility. Your turnover is likely to stabilize if you invest in high quality human resource staff and excellent managers and directors. A depressing workplace, an unpleasant culture, or confusion about responsibilities and expectations can all drive excellent employees away. Some toxic cultural aspects (For example, out-of-control competition, bullying, or weak leadership) can actually attract terrible, underperforming employees while simultaneously driving good ones away. Keep an eye on this, and make sure you hire managers who take workplace culture seriously.

4.    Life changes and a corresponding need for flexibility

As employees move from their twenties into their thirties and forties, their lives change in often-predictable ways. They have children, their children grow up, and they begin to care for aging parents. Managers should not be caught off guard by these relatively common events. Inflexible or unsympathetic policies may alienate excellent employees, and since most people put family loyalty above company loyalty, employees with limited options will start looking for work elsewhere. A five year investment in a talented employee should not be lost over an unwillingness to make reasonable accommodations.

5.    The lure of the unknown  

Sometimes young workers leave a company to travel, enter graduate programs, or pursue unique experiences. Combat this by keeping the lines of communication open between managers and employees. If an employee wants to travel, you may be able to offer her position on an overseas account. If she wants to get her master’s degree, maybe you can fund her program in exchange for a three-year commitment to the firm. Listen to your employees and stay in touch. If you can, use annual performance reviews as a way to check in with employees about their long term plans and life goals.

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