How to evaluate your employees

Evaluating employees and paying them what they deserve is one of the most crucial decisions a manager has to make, and is an important part of effectively managing a business.

Ask any professional about appraisals and you’ll get mixed reviews. Employees are often uncomfortable with them as they can involve unpleasant criticisms, managers spend hours preparing them and executives need them to measure return on investment in their people.

Most organisations have certain evaluation criteria and standards for reviews, but to do so effectively you need to look beyond the numbers. Here are some tips which can help you in evaluating your employees beyond their set targets.

Be prepared

Performance appraisals often involve a lot of paperwork and can be seen as time consuming or an HR exercise.  This mindset has many managers spending little to no time preparing.  It should go beyond just ticking boxes exercise.  Unfortunately, lack of preparation diminishes the value of the review with the employee.  To get the most out of it managers need to delve into the activity and performance of the employee providing examples with the feedback where possible.  Go into a review with key messages you would like to convey that can be measured and followed up on.  This can then be followed up on in the next formal review.

Encourage candid discussion

A performance appraisal should never be a one-way discussion. This is the time to present your point of view, but it is also the time to find out the employees thoughts on their performance.

What do they believe went well and what would they have done differently? What support do they believe they need from you to reach their goals? Given their areas of weakness and their new goals and objectives, what areas do they want to focus on for their personal and career development?

Give praise and credit where due

During a strong economy, reviews were a time to recognise outstanding employee performance with attractive benefits and bonuses. With many perks having been eliminated or greatly reduced to cut costs, performance reviews have become an even more important aspect in making sure high-performing employees are recognised. Don’t miss the opportunity to praise exceptional employees or you may lose them.

Don’t shy away from dealing with issues

It’s also an important occasion to reinforce plans for getting an employee back on track where there are issues, whether it be behaviour or results based. Performance reviews are a good time to emphasise expected changes that are needed to improve overall performance.  Again, put in writing clear expectations that can be measured and revisited.

Follow through

Ensure that you have both come to an agreed path of action before you close the review.  It may mean a further review scheduled along with specific measurables. To make it a successful review both parties need to have a mutual understanding of what needs to be achieved.  Ensure you, as a manager, are able to give your employee  the support you discussed, and hold them similarly accountable for their performance.

Bottom line is nothing you discuss in a performance review should surprise an employee. If you’re keeping open lines of communication throughout the year, then performance appraisal should be merely one more discussion in the on-going dialog of how the employee is performing.

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