It’s no secret that today’s reduced workforce has created packed daily schedules for both employees and their supervisors. With that in mind, many performance evaluations do not take place at their scheduled date. If employers do not conduct performance reviews when they are scheduled - or the reviews are skipped altogether, it can be difficult to address or even terminate problem employees.
This is especially true when there is a lack of notice regarding issues that need to be improved. As the saying goes: “If it is not written down, it did not happen.”
As with employment applications, there is no “one size fits all” form. Performance evaluations should reflect the company and the position being evaluated.
To help facilitate the process, employers should first conduct an internal “audit” and review the following checklist:
- Are performance evaluations conducted for all employees?
- Are managers trained to conduct performance evaluations?
- Has the company reviewed its evaluation form to ensure that it achieves the purpose and does not create adverse evidence against the company?
- Are employees allowed to comment on their performance evaluation?
- Are employees required to sign their performance evaluation?
- If the issue of performance is raised, does the company use a standard disciplinary warning form?
- Will training, or the opportunity for improvement, be offered following the evaluation?
Once the program has been established, the following tips are recommended to help employers run it effectively:
1. Set and stick to the program - As with other company processes, the performance evaluation program established should be consistent and focus on job-related criteria in their evaluation. Any inconsistency in the frequency of an evaluation or alternation in the criteria used could be perceived as a bias.
2. Keep effective records throughout the year - Good, consistent notes are the backbone for an effective performance evaluation. All too often, performance evaluations are slotted for that “one” yearly meeting. The issue here is impressions, both good and bad. Impressions can be lost during the course of the busy year if not properly documented. Managers are therefore encouraged to keep good records throughout the year, along with not forgetting to note small details, such as dating the documents.
3. Paint a realistic picture - The biggest problem facing a company is a manager’s propensity to inflate performance grades. Employers should train evaluating managers to provide accurate performance evaluations, which need to include a clear documentation of performance shortcomings, if applicable. If workplace performance is an issue, employers should be prepared to give clear notice and provide an expectation of how to improve, a reasonable time to do so, and guidance or assistance to improve. By taking these important steps, an employer has “set the table” to implement disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Employers should also train their evaluators to avoid common mistakes and biases in completing the evaluations.
4. Recording request - In today’s digital age, it’s not surprising that an employee may request to record the evaluation on their smartphone. Establish the policy for recording the meeting in advance. Employers should not make their own recordings without employee consent and are advised to have a witness present during performance reviews or disciplinary hearings.
5. Provide full, undivided attention - Once the performance evaluation has begun, employers should be cognizant to give the review their full attention. With today’s hectic business schedule, it’s easy for managers to get interrupted by phone calls or knocks at the door. However, managers should be encouraged to give the evaluation their full, undivided attention, and be strongly advised to not rush through the review process. It is also important to provide the employee a chance to present his or her self-evaluation.