Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kristina Valjarevic. Her opinions are her own.
Performing employee evaluations can be nerve-wracking, especially for new managers. As a leader, you need to choose your words carefully so you don’t demotivate or devalue your employees. But how can you do it?
Today we’re bringing you a list of 5 essential factors of successful employee evaluations.
1. Back Up Your Feedback with Data
First of all, think about the kind of data that is relevant for the evaluation. Which aspects of the employees’ performance are important and should be noted and reported on? Is it whether or not they’re late? Or how much time they spend on certain tasks? Or whether they watch funny YouTube videos for three out of eight hours? All of these things can give you insight into how productive each individual is.
If you could just make a spreadsheet for each employee that you can whip out at the next evaluation and demonstrate how they need to improve or show them what they’re doing just right. This would be awesome, but you can’t write down when each employee arrives to work or sneak up behind them to see which tabs they have open. Luckily, you don’t have to do this!
There are many digital platforms now called employee monitoring systems that can do all of this work for you. Choose a computer monitoring software that answers your needs and has the features you need for an effective evaluation and let the software do everything else for you. And best of all, you get hard data you can rely on when the next employee evaluation comes around.
By using a computer monitoring software through the whole year you’ll have all the numbers you need for a fair evaluation. Show the employee how much time they spent performing productive or unproductive activities, how many projects they’ve completed successfully, as well as what were their biggest hiccups within the past year. Turn to the key performance indicators (KPIs) and compare their results. It’s essential that you demonstrate hard facts when delivering feedback, whether it’s positive or negative.
2. Ask for Peer Reviews
How well do you really know your employees? Even if you do your best, chances are that the person sitting next to them knows what they do or don’t do much better than you will ever be able to.
If your company has a larger team, and if the employee you’re evaluating cooperates with different team members and departments, you should get their input on employee’s performance. After all, they’re the ones collaborating, and they will certainly be able to provide you with an opinion that is coming from a completely different viewpoint. They might even point out some things you didn’t notice.
Create a standardized survey you can hand out to participants each time you’re performing an evaluation. Gather all comments, and pull out an average which can help you add some final thoughts to appraisal. These insights can also be invaluable for estimating the social atmosphere in the team, which is definitely one of the factors affecting the overall team performance.
3. Set Goals for the Future
As important as it is to provide feedback, it’s also crucial to set some goals for the future period. If your employees know what to expect and what they need to work on, it will be easier for them to meet these objectives. At the end of the day, you want your employees to succeed, stay on the team and continue to thrive.
Your goals need to be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely). Depending on the department the employee’s in, specifics of the goals will differ. However, the time frame should be set until your next evaluation meeting. This can be on a monthly, bi-monthly or even yearly basis, but the employees will appreciate it if these evaluations are regular.
Besides helping the worker allocate their workload more efficiently, goals will help you perform a more relevant appraisal. You’ll be equipped with set goals on which to evaluate their progress and give pointers for further improvement. On the other hand, employees will know what you expect from them and what they’ll need to focus their efforts on, which will alleviate stress that they so often associate with employee evaluations.
4. Choose Words Carefully
Now we get to the fine details of delivering the evaluation. You have all the data, peer reviews and your SMART goals, and now you need to face the employees. There are a couple of things you should bear in mind when choosing your words when evaluating workers.
First of all, honesty is key. That is the one thing that you shouldn’t compromise. However, choose your tone with care. There are certain sayings you should avoid while trying to critique or praise your employees and knowing how to phrase your feedback is critical for their self-esteem, job satisfaction and future performance.
For example, saying ‘Stop wasting your time on irrelevant things’ is not going to be received well. Instead, try something like this: ‘I believe you can improve your productivity by leaving personal correspondence and brief entertainment for after you’ve done the task at hand because this way you won’t lose focus’. This phrasing is much more helpful for the employee. Now he knows what he needs to do and why accepting the suggestion will help him improve.
With every critique, indicate how exactly you want the employees to change their behavior and how this change will help them. Additionally, it goes without saying that insults, swear words or shouting are off the table, whatever the case.
And finally, don’t forget to praise them when they deserve it. Tell them explicitly what areas they are excelling in and what they are doing well. Do this generously, but don’t go overboard – this is still a business setting. And keep your evaluation brief – nobody wants to listen to a discourse for 3 hours, not even if it’s about themselves.
5. Ask for Feedback
Successful collaboration and employee improvement is a two-way street. Giving them your side of things if important, but don’t forget to ask them for their feedback. You, as a manager/business owner/HR, also need to grow. Having employees tell you what they like or don’t like about the evaluation process will give you a clear direction for your future improvements. This survey can be anonymous in order to encourage honesty. And of course, don’t forget to actually read the feedback you get and try your best to apply what you’ve learned.
Having learned about these five important factors for successful employee evaluation, you’re now hopefully less daunted and better equipped to handle this significant step in making your team and your company grow. Combining data from an employee monitoring software with peer reviews and your set goals as well as using an encouraging tone to report on those findings will benefit your employees and your business objectives, and their feedback will help you grow along with them.