What’s the best approach to employee evaluations?
February 1, 2018
A look at the three most common formats
Employee reviews can be a concrete way of identifying strengths and opportunities for improvement, evaluating overall job satisfaction, or giving well-deserved recognition.
There are many different types of performance reviews out there and knowing which ones will work best for your company is not a straightforward answer you can get through a Google search. Some reviews have been shown to work ‘better’ than others, but the reality is that their effectiveness is as variable as your company is unique.
Deciding on the format of the review—whether it is to be conducted by a manager, peers, or the employee herself (or some combination thereof)—should take into consideration the culture of the company, the employee’s role, and the extent to which their job requires interaction with co-workers. For instance, a review given by an absent superior in a company where most interaction occurs between teammates risks being uninformed and demoralizing for the employee.
Because your ultimate goal is to facilitate conversation and collaborative goal setting, the best results will come from choosing an approach that is also harmonious with your management style and your team dynamic.
We're just wondering; do you know which approach fits best in your company?
Should you try the “Self Evaluation”?
If your employees perform the bulk of their work autonomously with little collaboration or interaction with a manager, there is really no one better equipped to do their review than themselves!
In a self-evaluation, an employee is asked to judge her own performance, usually against predetermined criteria. Self-evaluations have received some criticism as to whether they improve productivity since the subject may exaggerate or undervalue their accomplishments.
However, there is just as much support in favor of this form of assessment under the belief that when completed honestly, the process can provide invaluable insights. Employers can use this information to more accurately customize a plan that will achieve higher engagement and stronger manager/employee communication.
For example, one format for self-evaluation is the Critical Incident System. Here, an employee will be asked to evaluate her performance against the core responsibilities of her job. She may be required to give her performance a numerical rating or to describe specific examples that illustrate her on-the-job performance.
Because the self-evaluation gives the employee a direct say in her evaluation, it can be a great way of starting a healthy dialogue with her manager and together identifying objectives and putting together a plan of action.
You may be already be using the common “Manager Evaluation”
When successfully implemented, this is more than just the standard six-month performance evaluation template.
If your workplace functions with high manager-employee interaction rates, adopt a coaching approach to guide your teams. Employees today are seeking a constant stream of feedback with very brief lag times between the event and feedback: Stop treating reviews as once-a-year check-ins and connect more regularly. The relationship between an employee and her manager should consist of both informal and scheduled conversations to build trust and promote an open work culture.
That said, the scheduled reviews themselves are a great time to formally look over employee successes and areas for improvement, set goals, and evaluate how an employee can best contribute to achieving the company’s objectives. Take time to prepare for these.
Performance reviews are only effective in improving job performance when there are specific examples used. The more effort you put in, the more likely your employee is to feel valued and to respond constructively to feedback and areas for improvement.
When it comes to the review itself, there are numerous options for managers to use with employees, each with its own strengths. Decide what skills and qualities are important to the company and choose a grading system in line with those priorities.
Some of the most frequently used formats in organizations today include Management by objectives, Essay Evaluations, Weighted Checklists, and Numerical Rating Systems.
Have you considered obtaining a 360-degree view with “Peer Reviews”?
There is some highly insightful and honest feedback available to you via the input of an employee’s co-workers. Co-workers witness and experience the strengths and weaknesses of one another in a way that a manager may not be able to; having their feedback as well as a manager will give you and the employee the benefit of knowing what the team appreciates in their work and where they should focus next for overall improvement.
The one disadvantage here is that co-workers may be overly critical of one another if they feel there is competition for a promotion or pay raise. Keep this method separate from any such considerations and make sure peer reviews are done anonymously to avoid any unfair evaluations.
Gathering all this information will mean committing to a review format that is somewhat time-consuming in comparison to the first two approaches. That said, you are gaining 360-degree feedback: a multi-dimensional, comprehensive look at your employee that is guaranteed to be the most accurate.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. You are working towards a successful system that yields identifiable results in employee engagement and satisfaction. This will likely require some reworking throughout the life of the company as the organization grows and takes on new employees.
Not surprisingly, your current employees are the go-to source for feedback on the review program itself. Ask them if they feel they are being supported in their growth- is there a sense of appreciation coming from the company or does the review feel like a test? Action plans and objectives should always be the product of communication between management and the employee, so the sooner you find a way to maximize that dialogue, the better.