How to Conduct Performance Evaluations

By Andrea Hayden

5 min read

To receive productive results from a performance evaluation, good preparation is necessary from both the employer and the employee. The evaluation and review should be used as a communication tool to help ensure employees are operating efficiently and effectively.

Preparing for the Evaluation

A few simple preparation steps will be enormously helpful in ensuring the process goes smoothly for both you and the employee.

  1. Set a date with the employee at least one month in advance. This allows adequate time for both parties to prepare for the meeting.
  2. Review the employee’s current job description to see if it reflects the current responsibilities and requirements of the position. If the employee’s role has transformed significantly, it may be time to update the job description.
  3. Gather documents accumulated throughout the year that reflect the employee’s performance, such as comments from customers and/or coworkers and records of employee achievement.
  4. Review the previous performance review and mutually set goals, if available, and consider how the employee has performed and what they’ve accomplished since the last meeting.
  5. Consider what feedback you will need to communicate to the employee and how you will convey it. Think about what goals, successes, obstacles and/or potential training will need to be discussed with the employee. See the next section for more information on employee evaluation systems to convey your feedback.
  6. Hand out employee self-reviews if you’d like your workers to evaluate their own performances as well. Be sure to give clear instructions along with the paperwork.

Systems for Employee Evaluation

Various options exist for evaluating a candidate and measuring performance. You can use a basic document that is already made, such as this Employee Evaluation Form. You also have the option to develop your own form, creating a standard evaluation to be used for all employees.

Performance forms should include these areas to evaluate:

  • Job knowledge and skills in regards to the job description
  • Quality and quantity of work
  • Work habits
  • Goals and objectives for the next performance period

Review what skills matter the most to you and reinforce this to the employee and on your evaluation form. Clearly lay out your expectations before and during the evaluation process.

You can choose whatever rating system works best for you and your company, such as a 1-10 scale, an A-F grade or a “below, meets or above” expectations system. Whatever form of measurement you choose, however, it is important to remain consistent in your ratings and form evaluations.

Conducting the Evaluation

The main purpose of the evaluation should be to have a conversation with the employee. Keep in mind that the more positive the exchange is, the more likely it is that you will see positive results.

  1. Meet in a private space where you won’t be interrupted.
  2. Lay out the itinerary and expectations for the meeting, including the topics you wish to cover and goals you wish to achieve through the evaluation (e.g. “setting 3 primary goals for the next quarter”).
  3. Let the employee start and ask questions. This will alleviate any concerns that the employee may have that could distract them throughout the meeting.
  4. Review documents and evaluations, comparing results since the last performance evaluation and focusing on your ratings and comments. If you use self-evaluations, discuss areas where you agree and disagree with the employee’s self-assessment.
  5. Provide feedback and be sure to communicate where the employee stands in relation to their job description, work rules and company procedures as opposed to discussing employee attitude. It is important to be specific and use examples.
  6. Take notes and document your conversation to reference throughout the year and evaluate performance accordingly.

Key Things to Avoid

Various non-fruitful approaches to feedback should be avoided during evaluations, as these practices can lead to potential legal complications.

  1. Don’t talk about development plans unless you are absolutely positive you can fulfill the offers you are making. Although you may fully intend to offer a training course, you could end up creating expectations that you don’t meet.
  2. Don’t imply contract or make promises that will become difficult to break later. For example, saying, “If you keep up the good work, you’ll always have a job here.” Such statements could potentially lead to legal complications if broken.
  3. Don’t judge an employee on appearance or dress. These and other non-work related judgments could cause discrimination issues to arise and may violate the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws. Be sure to stay focused on specific work-based standards instead.
  4. Don’t talk about other employees or conduct the evaluation in the company of others. Privacy shows employees respect.
  5. Don’t argue. Although there might be areas where you and the employee differ in opinion, remain professional, listen and try to close the gap calmly.

Closing and Follow-Up

It is very important to end the session positively and clarify any questions concerning ratings or employer comments.

  1. Agree upon next steps with the employee, setting positive goals for the future and discussing any potential training that may be needed.
  2. Review notes and forms and complete documents from the conversation to refer to throughout the year.
  3. Provide copies of the evaluation to the employee to allow them to refer to and follow-up if necessary.
  4. Update the job description and title if necessary to reflect the responsibilities and requirements of the position.
  5. Consistently refer to goals and standards throughout the year and take notes for future evaluations.

Evaluation Documents

Proper documentation will ensure that employee performance is tracked honestly and regularly; it will also aid in future evaluations and job position changes.

  • Employee Performance Review – Example of a performance review that can be used by any employer. The form lists employee functions and requirements and provides space for employer evaluation and comments.
  • Employee Evaluation Form – This form allows for detailed employee self-evaluation as well as manager review and comments.
  • Performance Evaluation Policy – This policy should be included in the employee handbook. It sets forth a company’s policy regarding conducting employee performance evaluations and the procedures surrounding these evaluations.
  • Job Description Template – This template is used to outline the roles and responsibilities of employees in a given position within a company.
  • Employee Review Accomplishment List – An example draft that can be used to record an employee’s annual accomplishments.
Information may be abridged and therefore incomplete. This document/information does not constitute, and should not be considered a substitute for, legal or financial advice. Each financial situation is different, the advice provided is intended to be general. Please contact your financial or legal advisors for information specific to your situation.

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