Your company is only as good as your staff. A key to staff performance, morale and retention is regular and constructive evaluation of your employees. Letting staff members know what they are doing right and what they must improve enables both management and staff to be clear about expectations. Various evaluation methods enable staff to formulate an achievable improvement plan.
The rating scale can act as a grading key for an evaluation form. For example, the University of California, Davis employs a four-tier rating system: Level 4 for "exceeds expectations," Level 3 for "meets expectations," Level 2 for "improvement needed" and Level 1 for "unsatisfactory." The University of California, Berkeley makes two additions to the rating scale -- adding a grade for "outstanding" and a grade for "not applicable."
Areas of Evaluation
When assessing job performance, you can grade based on areas and goals developed for the individual or based on standardized areas of evaluation. If you use individualized areas, then address the current year's performance and capture in your evaluation next year's goals. This is an important tool for feedback, as next year's goals will encompass both areas of needed improvement and changes in the organization's focus. If you use standardized areas of evaluation, then your evaluation is going to be more representative of the tone and path of the organization as a whole. Areas such as leadership, communication, work quality and inclusiveness are common for this generalized portion of the evaluation.
The development plan is a versatile tool for feedback. This is the portion at the end of the evaluation where you attempt to build on the areas of strength and improve on areas of weakness through goals and procedures. If you can include your staff in the writing of their own development plan, then it will instill a sense of investment in their employment.
A valuable tool for starting a dialogue for feedback and regular evaluation of your staff is a self-evaluation form and process. The self-evaluation can be a compressed version of the periodic and more in-depth evaluation that you administer, except that all the ratings and comments are generated by your staff. This encourages staff to have period of reflection on a specific job or issue and allows the dialogue to follow their rationale, thus making it less confrontational and potentially more empowering.