Six Tips for Improving Your Employee Evaluation Process
Jim Webber has worked in employment law for more than three decades, and also spent years in human resources management. Thus, he has experienced more than one employee evaluation meeting in his time.
And, if there’s one bit of advice, above all others, that Webber would give to those leading employee evaluation discussions, it would be this: be candid.
“You’re not their parent, you’re not their pastor. You’re their boss,” says Webber, the owner of Jim Webber Training/Consulting/Investigations. “And always remember: Your goal is to help them to continue to do better.”
Without a little planning in advance, employee evaluation meetings can unravel and meander, however. And when that happens, such discussions become inefficient, time-wasting formalities. But Webber has several tips for making evaluation meetings as productive as possible, and shared a lengthy list with Fixed Ops Business.
Schedule it in advance.
Few things make an employee feel overlooked like a year-end review that keeps getting rescheduled by his or her boss. An evaluation meeting needs to be scheduled well in advance—and the meeting time should be respected by both parties. At the very least, Webber says, an evaluation sit-down should be scheduled a few days in advance.
With that type of advanced notice, evaluations are likely to be treated as the significant discussions that they are.
Similarly, you run the risk of insulting an employee if it appears your evaluation notes were hastily thrown together at the last minute.
Webber feels supervisors should keep notes on an employee’s progress throughout the year. Otherwise, evaluators tend to simply point out recent observations and neglect to mention key points from earlier in an evaluation period.
He also suggests supervisors treat evaluation discussions as a top priority.
“You don’t take calls, you don’t let people come in and ask you questions,” Webber says. Treat the employee “like an important client.”
Have a pre-meeting briefing.
In an effort to make employee evaluations as efficient as possible, it’s worth it to let staffers plan in advance, too, by giving them a heads-up in the form of a quick, “pre-meeting,” as Webber calls them. He suggests having pre-meetings roughly two or three weeks prior to a formal evaluation. That way, staffers are more likely to arrive at the main get-together with thoughtful goals, questions and concerns. Plus, employees will get a fair warning regarding all topics scheduled to be discussed.
“The most common mistake I’ve seen is that supervisors put something in the evaluation that’s significant, but that the employee had never been communicated to about before,” Webber says.
Focus on an entire evaluation period.
Each evaluation should touch on an employee’s performance throughout an entire time period, be it four months, six months or a year, Webber says. It’s important to document specific times in which an employee has failed to meet expectations—even if that was months ago—so he or she doesn’t repeat past mistakes.
“I would tell employees, and I’d tell supervisors, ‘Don’t think of the evaluation as a snapshot of this moment in time,’” Webber explains. “‘Think of the evaluation as a mural—it’s a timeline, not a static picture.’”
Hold off on salary reviews.
In Webber’s experience, it’s best to keep discussions regarding pay raises separate from any evaluation conversation. If salary is discussed during an evaluation meeting, both parties tend to get preoccupied with the thought of money and tend not to absorb key feedback that’s being provided.
Employee evaluation meetings are a time for constructive back-and-forth conversations, not salary negotiations.
End on a positive note.
Even if an employee isn’t meeting expectations, it’s best not to demoralize them during an evaluation meeting. After all, such negativity isn’t likely to leave a staffer very motivated.
By and large, Webber feels evaluation meetings should give employees support, and an indication that you’re confident they can continue to improve as workers.
“Say, ‘What information do you need, so you can meet these goals? How can we help you?,” Webber suggests. “It should be positive—professionally positive.”