Performance Evaluation Time Again? 10 Tips for Making the Process Less Stressful
written by: Tess C. Taylor, HR Expert•edited by: Wendy Finn•updated: 5/25/2011
When it's time to conduct employee performance evaluations, managers and HR professionals often get stressed out. Here are ten tips for reducing stress and making employee performance evaluations more productive!
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Periodically, organizations must conduct employee performance evaluations to measure how effective employees have been throughout the year, help to retain key employees, and to set new goals to motivate and challenge employees. This can be a particularly stressful time for both employees and human resource managers, because the process also often involves a change in the rate of pay. When faced with the daunting task of conducting an in-depth employee evaluation, there are some performance evaluations tips to make the process less stressful in general for all concerned.
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Conduct Performance Evaluations Fairly
The number one thing to remember before conducting employee performance evaluations, is to be fair to all employees. This means developing an employee performance appraisal that accurately measures similar guidelines, that transfer to all employee job types and levels. Use a simple to understand employee evaluation form and make sure all employees get a fair, unbiased evaluation that will inspire them to achieve more in the coming year.
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Focus on the Positives
As you conduct employee performance evaluations, be sure to focus on the positive achievements of each employee. Too many managers get into the habit of only looking at the negative aspects of employee performance, and this makes evaluations seem threatening. Instead, provide positive feedback and constructive criticism, that will compel the employee to want to perform better following the evaluation.
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Give Employees a Chance to Self Evaluate
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to conduct employee performance evaluations is to allow employees to self-evaluate initially. This will get employees thinking honestly about areas where there is a need for improvement. Most employees respond well to this, as it is a demonstration of respect for each individual and it gives the human resource manager something more to use when conducting the actual formal evaluation.
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Be Consistent with Employee Evaluations
A key to employee evaluations and managing the entire process, is to set up a system for keeping all of the processes consistent year after year. This increases the chance that evaluations will be conducted fairly and employees will know what to expect. In addition, it allows the evaluator to use the same criteria for every employee, which prevents giving excuses for some employees while being harsh on others.
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Give Clear Comments
As you conduct each employee performance evaluation, be sure that the comments made are clear enough that the employee will understand them. This is information that the employee needs to improve his performance and so it should be clear, concise and to the point. Don’t give ambiguous comments or try to be “nice"; be honest and professional and give comments which will encourage the employee to want to work harder.
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Provide Realistic Goals
It is important that all goals are realistic and attainable as you work through the employee performance evaluations tips. Goals that are too lofty, can cause employees to become discouraged and actually have a negative effect on performance. Goals should be determined by the type of work performed and be realistic, given the abilities of each individual employee. Carefully set at least one realistic work performance goal with a set time for completion, and be prepared to revisit this goal during the next evaluation period.
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Rate Performance Instead of Attitude
One mistake that many managers make when considering tips on handling performance evaluations, is focusing on the employee’s attitude, rather than on actual performance standards. Be cautious, and do not to allow an employee’s attitude to distract from actual performance that is expected for the type of job performed. An employee can have a great attitude, but poor overall performance, and vice versa. Review the job description with the employee, and point out any areas that need improvement for the most accurate measurement of performance.
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Use a Simple Ranking System
When designing a workable employee performance evaluation system, keeping it simple makes the best sense. Create a ranking system based on numbers one through three and then assign a rating to each such as “needs some improvement", “ consistently meets expectations", and “exceeds expectations". Tips on handling performance evaluations like this sends a clearer message to employees about which areas need improvement and what areas are within acceptable ranges. It also encourages employees to get a high rating in some areas.
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Respect Employee Ideas
Perhaps the most intimidating part of the employee performance evaluation process is hearing what the employees have to say about their own performance. It’s critical to allow employees to have the opportunity to speak at some points during the evaluation, but keep it light and positive, at the same time as respecting the employee’s ideas. Give each employee a chance to provide a new idea which will aid in performance in the future, which empowers him or her to want to do better. Failure to allow time for employees to share their ideas, can result in negative attitudes about the entire evaluation process, which leaves everyone dreading the experience.
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Establish Incentives for Top Performers
A critical aspect of successful employee performance evaluations is providing meaningful incentives for employees. Consider what would inspire employees and develop incentives that will motivate and encourage better performance over time. Look for creative ways to reward employees for coming up with new ways to work efficiently, for team spirit, for completing key projects and other achievements that are often overlooked during a normal workweek. Be sure to communicate this to the employees during the performance evaluation and then follow up periodically to see how well employees are doing - then reward top performers as appropriate.
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A Brief Note About Conducting Performance Reviews
The moment of truth as an effective manager is being able to positively put these tips on handling performance evaluations to work. While it is ultimately up to each employee to learn from the employee evaluation process, by conducting it in such a way that encourages and inspires employees to want to do better, your organization will benefit from improved productivity. Employees who are encouraged, rather than micro-managed, will leave the employee evaluation meeting empowered and with a better attitude about their role within the company.
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References and Photo Credits
"Upgrade the Employee Performance Evaluation Process", HR Magazine (11/92), retrieved from CBS Business Network on 1/14/11