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You know your workers are one of the most important parts of your company. So how can you find out how they’re doing and how to support them?
Employee evaluations, aka performance reviews, can be a big part of the answer.
Employee evaluations help employees learn what tasks they’re doing well on and if there’s anything they need to work on. It can also be a chance for managers to learn more about their team.
What Is an Employee Evaluation?
An employee evaluation is an assessment of a worker’s job performance. It’s almost always a conversation between a manager and an employee rather than a written note. The conversation lets the manager share any feedback the employee needs to know, including whether the worker is meeting the standards and requirements of their job. The evaluation can also include a review of the worker’s achievements, strengths, and weaknesses.
At some companies, employee evaluations are mostly to keep everyone on track. At other organizations, evaluations are very focused on quantifying performance. Usually, the goal in these companies is to decide who gets raises and promotions, so these evaluations can be formal and competitive.
For example, in this case, managers may be comparing the performance of each worker to the work standard of other employees. Sometimes, managers can only assign a certain percentage of workers as having “outstanding” or “above average” work, so only top performers get these designations. At some businesses, there may even be a formal appeals process if workers feel their evaluation was unfair.
How Often Should Your Company Hold Employee Evaluations?
Employee evaluations are traditionally held once a year. However, your organization can conduct these conversations quarterly, biannually, or monthly. Some organizations even choose to have short, informal employee evaluations weekly!
How often you conduct evaluations (or if you even have them at all) will depend on your company’s culture and your team’s needs. If you have a learning culture, for example, frequent evaluations help your employees get feedback so they can direct their learning. If your organization is growing fast, you might need quarterly evaluations or even more frequent ones to keep your team on track.
The structure of your evaluations matters too. For instance, some companies use 360 performance evaluations, aka 360 reviews, wherein feedback on employees is gathered from several stakeholders, including managers, coworkers, and supervisors.
Getting this information about every employee from so many people takes time, so if you’re including 360 reviews in your employee evaluations, you may only be able to conduct evaluations once a year or quarterly. If you are relying only on manager or supervisor feedback for more informal feedback, you can have evaluations more often.
Why Should Your Company Have Employee Evaluations?
They’re not required by law, but employee evaluations are still a good idea. They offer organizations in almost any industry some key benefits.
- Workers want more feedback. According to one study, 65% of employees want more feedback at work.
- Evaluations help your team improve. By helping workers understand what they’re doing well and where they need more focus, evaluations offer a roadmap to success. They provide clarity to employees, helping them improve.
- They help you retain talent. One study uncovered that companies offering feedback focused on worker strengths reduced turnover by 14.9%.
- Employee evaluations help managers, too. Employee evaluations give managers a chance to share expectations and to help employees who are not meeting standards. Chatting with employees about performance also helps managers uncover who should be recognized for performance and whose skills could be a perfect match for the next company project.
- They help you notice any issues. Evaluations ensure you’re always looking at worker performance, so you can tackle any issues before they start to affect output or morale.
- Employee evaluations improve communication. Workers may not always get a chance to talk one-on-one with managers about their goals, needs, and performance. During the average workday, communication tends to focus on tasks and what needs to happen next. Evaluations let you step back and have an ongoing discussion with every worker.
What to Consider When Starting Employee Evaluations
If your organization needs to create a formal evaluation process, there are various factors to consider.
For one, how and when you will conduct employee evaluations? For example, will you hold evaluations in person or over video chat? Will they be formal or more casual?
Your HR, leadership, and management team will also need to decide what to evaluate. The metrics you choose should relate on a practical level to your employees’ performance. For example, if your workers are nurses offering in-home care, employee evaluations may center around how many satisfied patients each worker has assisted. If your team includes delivery drivers, employee evaluations may focus on how many on-time deliveries each driver has made.
In addition to these metrics, you may want to evaluate how well workers align with the company’s mission or how they contribute to teams. Think about how you will be using the evaluations when deciding on metrics. For example, if you will be using them to decide on work assignments and promotions, you might want to evaluate skills, leadership abilities, and ability to work on teams.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the impacts and consequences of employee evaluations. Will these evaluations directly affect which team members get a raise or promotion? Or, are employee evaluations at your organization more about helping team members improve their work performance? This can determine how formal your evaluations need to be and what information you’ll need to gather about each employee.
Employee Evaluation Best Practices
Once you have an evaluation process in place, here are some best practices to make employee evaluations a valuable and productive tool for your organization.
Before the employee evaluation
Before managers and employees meet, managers will want to prepare for the evaluation.
- Talk to your workers before starting evaluations. You can use an anonymous survey with Connecteam, for example, to find out what kind of feedback workers would find useful. Would workers like more acknowledgment of what they’re doing right, or would they like a specific plan for improvement?
- Shape the conversation. Create a template so each worker will be evaluated the same way. This could be simple, such as a few questions for managers to answer about each employee, or something more structured, such as listing the company’s values and having managers jot down how well each employee lives up to those values. Importantly, the main points you want to talk about are recorded so you won’t forget anything.
- Gather the facts. When giving constructive criticism, have evidence ready. Instead of saying “you could do better on punctuality,” be specific: “In the past month, according to our clock-in software, you’ve been at least five minutes late on four different occasions.” Review any notes about the employee and any past evaluations.
- Schedule the evaluation well in advance. When sending the invitation, remind employees that this is a chance for everyone to discuss their work. You don’t want workers to feel it’s a disciplinary measure.
- Ask the employee to take part. In the invitation, ask your employee to bring any notes or questions they would like to talk about.
During the employee evaluation
During the actual evaluation, you will want to set the tone for a productive and supportive meeting.
- Keep it casual. Keep the conversation as personalized and warm as your company culture allows. If appropriate, start with a casual chat about the employee and how they are doing. Avoid corporate language. An evaluation should feel as un-stressful as possible.
- Keep the evaluation two-sided. Instead of offering a list of feedback, make your evaluation a real conversation. Talk about the worker’s personal and professional development. Ask what resources or support might help. Find out what work and personal goals the worker has. You may even ask the employee if they have any constructive feedback for management and leadership.
- Put the employee first. It can make people feel vulnerable to hear constructive criticism, even when it’s delivered kindly. Give the employee plenty of time and never use comparisons to other workers. Use positive or neutral language rather than words like “failed to meet standards.” Really listen and give the worker your full attention.
- Review any changes since the last evaluation. If a worker has had an evaluation before, go over changes in their performance since then. If you set some goals together during the last review, talk about any progress on those goals.
- Be as specific and clear as possible. Avoid using general adjectives, like “good” or “poor.” They can be subjective and confusing. Instead of saying a worker has “average” performance, for example, you can say “Your client reviews are 6.5, a one-point drop since your last evaluation, but you’ve always been on time in the past year.” This shows workers exactly what they need to do to improve.
- Discuss what’s next. If there’s something the employee needs to work on, develop a plan together. Offer appropriate help. For example, you can use the Connecteam training app to develop a self-paced training course for an employee who is struggling with certain tasks or software.
After the evaluation
Make sure to write down what was discussed right after an evaluation, when it’s fresh in your mind. That way, when the next evaluation happens, employees and management will have a record of what suggestions and changes were agreed to. You may also want to follow up:
- Share any relevant information with leadership.
- Follow up with the employee to recap what was discussed.
- Share any resources that can help the employee with their goals.
- Check in with the employee to see if any questions or concerns have come up about the evaluation.
- Send out employee incentives, if appropriate, to reward a worker for great performance.
Assessing Your Employee Evaluations
Employee evaluations tell a worker what parts of their performance could use improvement. With compassion and a focus on facts, employee evaluations can help your whole team reach a higher standard of work. They can also help managers, too, by helping uncover employee skills, goals, issues, and questions.