Lighten the Evaluation Load

Many managers view employee performance evaluations as a bothersome chore. After all, compiling an annual evaluation for each employee is time-consuming and distracting, especially for those who supervise large numbers of employees.

Evaluation Ratings

If evaluations are done near the anniversary of the date each person was hired, it can be a never-ending process. As a result, managers sometimes take shortcuts and overlook strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments that are critical to an employee's future.

There's another approach that might work better for your company. Instead of scrambling to prepare evaluations for the anniversary of each employee's hire date, consider evaluating all your employees at the same time every year.

The Advantages:

  • The appraisal process becomes an annual, high-priority project instead of a task that's squeezed into a long list of duties. You can schedule research and preparation time for managers, just as you do with other important projects throughout the year.
  • You can manage the company budget better because pay raises that accompany appraisals occur at the same time.
  • With sufficient time to assess all subordinates at once, managers might be more likely to consider an entire year's performance and less likely to be swayed by recent events.
  • Managers can give equal consideration to all staff members instead of concentrating on problem performers or standouts, who often receive an undue share of attention.

Evaluating employees at one time is certainly labor intensive. And you have to tailor appraisals for those who join the firm just before the evaluation period.

But in the end, you might wind up with better appraisals, a more satisfied workforce and better cash management.

Keep in mind: Employee evaluations should also measure the performance of your company. Suppose a large percentage of your employees are getting high scores in their evaluations. Presumably, your bottom line should be increasing. If not, it might be time to take a second look at your management philosophy, not to mention your performance appraisal methods.

Staff performance is the key to productivity and profits. Analyze employee evaluations and compare the analysis against your bottom line. This alerts you to trends, weaknesses and blind spots in your organization. It's a good way to ensure that the staff and the company are moving in the same direction -- up.

Evaluations: Fewer Choices Are Better

Managers and employees often dread annual performance reviews because of the rating systems that many companies use -- it's like worrying about whether the teacher is going to give you an A or an F.

There might be a simple way to ease the sting: Take the emphasis off ratings with fewer choices.

When a rating is bad or disappointing, the employee is on the spot and the manager cringes at having to deliver the bad news. This dilutes the real purpose of evaluations, which is coaching, discussion and feedback.

Less can be more: You can downplay ratings by going to a simpler system that states whether an employee meets or doesn't meet standards. If you use numerical ratings or another complex method, consider dropping it entirely.

There's less confrontation when people don't feel obliged to defend their views on where ratings ought to fall. Managers and employees are more likely to focus on such objective criteria as how close an employee came to meeting measurable goals. Of course, the discussion must have lasting value. Take notes about concerns employees raise, give praise where appropriate and lay out new goals.

Partner-oriented appraisals go a long way toward improving productivity and helping managers form healthy relationships with staff members.

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