How to Evaluate Employee Performance

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A performance evaluation is a key method for helping managers assess employee performance and for giving feedback on how well an employee executes her job duties. Performance evaluations are pertinent to company success, yet many managers dread the process or do not know how to conduct effective appraisals. The process is less difficult with planning and setting measurable goals and objective performance standards.

Get Clear on Employee Duties

  • Know employee job duties, skills and knowledge requirements before the evaluation. This information sets the stage for fact-based performance standards and reviews. Also, make sure the employee clearly understands her duties and the performance measures associated with those duties. A lack of clarity puts employees at a disadvantage and may result in unfair appraisals.

Measurable Goals and Performance Criteria

  • Goals should be measurable, within reach and not unrealistic. Establish objective performance criteria for each goal and make sure the employee understands how performance is measured and how she can be successful. For example, if she is at a level 3 and level 5 is for top performers, tell her what it is going to take to get that top ranking and provide performance examples.

Employee Input and Resources

  • An employee is likely to perform at a higher level when she has some say about her performance goals and measurements. Collect input from her before making final decisions. Also, make sure the employee has the necessary resources to get the job done. Resources include training, operating procedures, staffing, materials and equipment.

Check In and Provide Feedback

  • Don't wait for an annual review to give employee feedback. Instead provide her with periodic reviews and feedback throughout the year. Delaying feedback could allow performance problems to worsen and cause employees to miss out on small, yet powerful improvement opportunities.

Prepare for a Formal Review

  • Give advance notice of scheduled performance reviews to allow both you and the employee to prepare for the discussion. Review her job responsibilities, goals and performance measures. Collect information from previous reviews to identify any performance patterns, both good and bad.

Be Factual and Respectful

  • Address facts versus personal opinions during the review. Evaluate performance against objective criteria and use specific examples to back up the facts. Plan to address areas of growth and professional development. Use respectful language and mannerisms during performance reviews. Listen actively and ask employee to clarify responses when necessary. Avoid arguing.

Get Agreement on Course Correction

  • Give the employee the opportunity to share her thoughts on her own performance. Then get agreement on what she will do to improve. The review outcome should be clear expectations for future performance and a plan for improving deficient areas.

Set Consequences and Check Progress

  • After removing all reasonable barriers that hinder employee performance, consequences may be in order for those who don't do better. Set consequences, such as formal discipline, for chronic nonperformance. Designate a specific day and time to check on employee progress. Be prepared to activate reasonable consequences for lack of improvement.

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