In today’s technology-intensive business climate, employers must be able to accurately gauge the evolving needs of their enterprise, how individual employees are coping with change, and how each staff member’s role is shifting relative to h/er original job description. The individual employee performance review can be an effective tool for measuring progress, and for improving productivity, morale, and relations between managers and staff. But it can also be a waste of time if the participants are unprepared.
Prepare for the performance evaluation in advance and pay attention to details. Here are some areas you may want to consider:
• the employee’s professional rapport with h/er co-workers, superiors, and subordinates
• skills and execution in key areas like organization, timely response to e-mails and phone messages, courtesy toward clients (barring exceptional circumstances), and completion of tasks ahead of deadlines or key dates
• any comments or feedback, whether complimentary or otherwise, about the employee from h/er colleagues or immediate supervisors
• opportunities for professional growth, on-the-job training, and skills upgrades
It is wise to give an employee plenty of notice that a performance review is forthcoming, and remind h/er a few days before the meeting. This will give h/er time to identify issues that s/he may want to raise, including h/er goals within the organization, and areas where s/he may need additional support.
Hold the evaluation in a confidential space, and set an agenda.
Dedicate a certain number of minutes to each area you’d like to discuss; aim to stay more or less on topic and on schedule. Confidentiality is important. You don’t want everyone in the office to know your opinion of the employee, and the employee won’t want rumours about h/er strengths, weaknesses, impressions of relationships with colleagues and professional goals to spread.
Don’t leave compensation to the end.
Employees are understandably interested to know the level of compensation they can expect today and in the future. If the individual you’re evaluating senses that you’re glossing over the subject or avoiding it, it could become an elephant in the room. And distractions of that magnitude during an evaluation are never helpful.
Whether you believe a raise is in order or not, state your position and your rationale. If possible, try to put a positive spin on a non-raise by hinting at actions your employee can take to qualify for a salary bump and increased responsibility. Staff who feel that their pay is arbitrary, or that their career is stuck in neutral, may become discouraged and contemplate moving on.
Ask questions, and provide opportunities for your counterpart to do the same.
You may have formed a certain impression of the employee and h/er performance already, but it’s still important to hear the other person’s point of view. You could even begin the meeting by asking the employee to evaluate h/er own performance, and compare that assessment to your own.
In the event of an underperformance, there may be confounding factors you haven’t accounted for. On the other hand, if an employee is enjoying success, s/he may offer an explanation that will enable you to foster h/er continued success.
Finally, just as you would at the end of a job interview, reserve a few minutes for the employee to ask questions, raise concerns, and pitch ideas of h/er own.
Make sure you’re on the same page.
Review the key points raised during the evaluation as it draws to a close, and ensure that you both (employee and manager) understand and accept your expectations of each other, and your responsibilities moving forward.