Tuesday, 12 February 2019 20:18

Getting Employee Performance Evaluations Right

The process of evaluating an employee’s performance is changing. Many businesses recognize that current ways of assessing performance often undermine the desired outcome, rather than spur employees on to new levels of output.

Why? Many annual performance reviews occur too late in the year to alter an employee’s real-time productivity. In many cases, they also contribute to a work environment in which people feel like they’re being “graded,” adding more stress to a stressful situation. And in cases where a poor performer ratchets up his or her work just ahead of an impending review, it leaves open a situation where inferior performance is deemed acceptable during the rest of the year. DSC2356

Clearly, these results suggest companies are right to re-examine their current performance evaluation models and seek to improve the process wherever possible. Here are elements to consider in achieving this goal:

Be sure employees understand your expectations. In some workplace environments, employees aren’t clear about their manager’s expectations. To reduce confusion, these expectations should be clearly stated well ahead of the planned evaluation. This clarity also enhances communications between managers and employees.

Keep the focus on performance, not extraneous topics. It’s easy to slip from a discussion on performance to extraneous topics. Really, all that matters is performance.

“Don’t make performance evaluations personal,” advises Training Journal. “Remember that you are evaluating their work performance, not their attitude or personality. Keep it professional.”

Conduct evaluations in a face-to-face setting. While at times it may feel uncomfortable, experts generally agree that nothing is more effective than a face-to-face evaluation. You may find the discussion more fruitful if it’s conducted away from the workplace—a coffee shop, say, or some other informal setting.

Relaxed interaction with the employee being evaluated allows for more productive give-and-take—and the possibility of genuine insights into work habits and productivity.

Be humane in your feedback. No one gets better at their job by being endlessly criticized, and “brutal” honesty is unlikely to help turn around inferior performance. Of course, an evaluation must include an examination of negative work habits, but overemphasizing where the employee falls short can lead to resentment and little motivation to improve in the future.

“Deliver feedback in a way that you would want to receive it if you were the employee,” notes Business News Daily. “The discussion is crucial and unavoidable, so choose an appropriate approach and stick with it.”

Move away from annual evaluations to ongoing coaching sessions. Increasingly, businesses are rejecting the once-a-year evaluation model as simply too burdensome and inadequate for peak employee performance. Some organizations prefer a “quarterly snapshot,” particularly as it relates to the company’s quarterly goals.

It’s also a useful way to stay on top of any ongoing performance issues. When these issues are identified in real-time, they stand a much better chance of being addressed and resolved more quickly than waiting around for an end-of-year conversation.

In fact, many managers and HR professionals believe that frequent coaching sessions (or dialogues) do a better job of communicating expectations, adjusting performance priorities as needed, identifying challenges to an employee’s professional growth and focusing on opportunities to improve in specific areas of performance.

Regardless of the type of business, employees are every organization’s most valuable asset. The quality of their performance is constantly subject to a variety of influences—everything from how well the company itself is performing and the state of its corporate culture to each employee’s individual circumstances. That’s why a generic, one-size-fits-all approach to performance evaluations feels outdated in today’s workplace environment.

If you want to reduce the rate of turnover and become a genuine “employer of choice,” it may be time to re-evaluate the way you evaluate your employees.

How do you handle employee performance reviews? Whether you are inside the hardwood lumber industry or not, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Brett Del Prince
Baillie Lumber
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