12 Best Practices for a performance evaluation!
A few weeks ago, I wrote about what the overall goals of a performance evaluation should be. Now let's take a deeper dive into the actual components of the conversation which you can use to make the time as productive as possible.
1. Review their accomplishments! If their perception of the evaluation is based on previous negative experiences and their perspective is that it’s designed to “catch them out”, this is a way to help snap them out of that mindset.
2. Don’t be afraid to give specific feedback. Some managers will sugarcoat their feedback or give it in a circuitous manner to avoid trying to hurt someone’s feelings. So be sure to give it to them straight.
3. Be specific: Sweeping generalizations are a poor way to provide positive or negative feedback. “You aren’t handling the clients correctly” What does this mean? What needs to improve? When? How? “You aren’t putting in as much effort as the rest of the team” This is a totally unquantifiable and extremely ambiguous statement which will only leave someone scratching their heads. “How much more effort should they put in?”
4. The reverse is also true. “I love your weekly reports”. Which part do you love? The graphs, the analysis, or the cute pictures on the cover. As with gratitude, specificity is king!
5. Provide a plan. Don’t give negative feedback without giving the employee a mechanism to change. “You need to increase your working knowledge of excel if you want to be considered for team leader.” This is specific, but it needs to come in conjunction with an action plan. Do not assume everyone is a self-help expert and if you say improve X or Y, they can go about it on their own.
6. Don’t make it a one-sided conversation. If you think there’s an area they need to improve on, hear what your employee thinks about it. You don’t want employees to think it was just a well-rehearsed speech and that all you care about is getting your message across but not listening to them.
7. A review gives them a minute to reflect on their career to you. Are they happy? Comfortable? Engaged? Motivated? Use the time for a truly candid discussion with your employee.
8. Be open to their criticism: Is it natural during the conversation for the employee to provide feedback as well and it’s important to be open to receive this feedback.
9. It’s not them, it’s their performance: Just as we’re told never to tell a child “You are a bad boy or girl” but say “That wasn’t a good thing to do”, so to with employees. They might have to improve on something but that doesn’t make them a bad person.
10. Get their consensus. If an employee insists that they have nothing to improve on and doesn’t agree with your professional assessment regarding their career trajectory don’t simply keep moving just to get the talk over.
11. Get them to repeat the feedback back to you to make sure the message was received as you intended.
12. End on a high note. Don’t conclude your conversation with negative thoughts. Take a minute to remind them how much you appreciate their work. Always remember, that your job as a manger is to lift them off the ground, not drive them into it.
Nobody would ever get up to give a speech in front of a large audience unrehearsed and without a game plan. Does it matter if the evaluation is given to an audience of one? Put in the time to prepare and make it a well-rounded, fruitful, insightful, motivating and uplifting talk! Good luck!