- Use a form that makes sense.
- Require employee input for their professional development.
- Document very specific examples.
- Use metrics to support your feedback.
- Obtain commitment to do something differently.
The best performance evaluations are those that directly evaluate based on the job description tasks instead of rating employees from 1 to 5 on vague things like time management. Regardless of what form you are required to use, start by looking at their job tasks, identifying specific things they do well and areas in which they need to focus or improve. Brainstorm for specific examples of situations that demonstrate both their successes and their challenges. This information can be used in just about any form.
The employee should also evaluate themselves. I often have them complete the very same evaluation I am going to use. If there is not a good form for the employee to use for self evaluation, ask them to simply email you five specific examples of times they were successful, and three specific examples of situations to support where they would like to improve their performance. Give them a deadline early enough to be able to send it back for more detail.
Here is the chain of events:
- You give them an evaluation form with a deadline of 48 hours to enter their input. Encourage them to point out their own specific successes to take credit for them!
- You draft your evaluation feedback.
- They turn in their evaluation with specific examples of successes, and situations that did not go so well.
- They pinpoint two areas where they would like to focus on improving over the next year.
- You compare their input and your feedback and add their input to your form (the official one) as needed, becoming aware of where you might disagree significantly with the employee.
- You deliver their feedback using your copy, and file their self evaluation feedback in their file.
If their job is based a lot on numbers, that’s great because it gives you the objective measurement of performance. Beyond the numbers, and to support the numbers, you will offer your specific examples of when they did well, in other words, what they did to create the good numbers they have or how they handled a customer situation well. Do the same thing for the not so good numbers.
The specific examples are what make the numbers come alive and become more personal. Numbers on their own don’t say much, but talking through what makes the numbers what they are, how the employees contribute to the numbers and what they have control over will be significant.
Then, choose no more than 3-5 areas where you would like them to focus during the next 6-12 months (until the next evaluation). These may be areas where they are strong and have great ability to get even better; could be places where they are failing miserably and need to get on track, or areas where you see greater potential than what they are putting forward – maybe they are scared to screw up or scared to push out of their comfort zone. These are not 3-5 tasks. They are areas broad enough to be the focus for 6-12 months. Each month or quarter, you spend time with the employee to identify the specific tasks they are to do to make progress on the broad areas.
You determine these 3-5 areas based on your observations combined with their input. Then, they come up with specific action items that they will implement in the next 30-90 days to make progress on these 3-5 areas. These must be things that they will do differently. Trying harder will not cut it. They should come up with these, with your coaching assistance, buy in and commit to them.