Employee performance review: It’s a phrase that even the best employees and managers often dread.
While the whole process is supposed to be a useful assessment of an employee’s strengths and weaknesses, all too often employee evaluations serve as little more than a human resources requirement. Managers may view them as a way to check off boxes rather than gleaning valuable insights from the conversations.
Here are some goals to help you get the most out of your next employee evaluation and use it as a tool for ongoing education and professional development:
Goal No. 1: Keep everyone on the same page.
Before you hire an employee, often you’ll provide him an outline of expectations and responsibilities for the role. But job descriptions change over time, and your business’ goals, objectives, and needs also may shift. What an employee may be doing one year may not be what he is doing in the role five years down the road.
Action: Make sure your hires have clearly stated job descriptions, discuss those descriptions with new hires, and periodically re-evaluate if those job descriptions need updating. It’s hard to evaluate an employee if role and performance requirements aren’t clear from the get-go.
Goal No. 2: Provide a written benchmark.
Any HR person will tell you performance reviews provide legal documentation in the case of a dispute. A review document protects not only the employer but also the employee. Be sure to spell out goals, objectives, strengths, and weaknesses. Not only does this provide a measurement of current employee performance, it also creates a history of an employee’s contribution—where she has grown, where her performance has slipped, and what her objectives are year over year.
Action: Carefully document your feedback, review individual activities, and work with the employee to create new goals and objectives. Have her sign off on the review once you’ve completed the evaluation.
Goal No. 3: Determine specific outcomes that guarantee an employee a raise or promotion.
As an employee accrues time at your organization and as performance reviews accumulate, you’ll have a historical “paper trail” of his improvements, weak areas, and role shifts. This data can help you determine if he has gone above and beyond and if a promotion, bonus, or little extra recognition might be in order. Or maybe the employee just needs more targeted feedback. Use performance reviews to set clear expectations for an employee so he can keep those goals and incentives front of mind.
Action: Regularly review employee activities, providing targeted feedback, and make a point of recognizing a job well done.
Goal No. 4: Get and give feedback.
A performance review is not the time for surprises. As an effective manager, your responsibility is to offer timely and relevant feedback when an employee needs it … not solely at review time.
Chances are, as a manager, you have a very different skill set and level of awareness than some of your employees who are in the trenches of everyday operations and customer interactions. Foster an environment of listening rather than just speaking. Ask your employee what frustrates her in her current position, what she likes about it, how effective she feels company leadership is, and how you can better support her position. While employee evaluation time is a good time to do this, it’s important to check in between evaluations, too.
Action: While honest feedback of strengths and weaknesses is crucial, offer other effective ways to help your employee be the best she can be. A video mystery shop is a great tool for providing specific feedback to sales team members, but many managers fail to follow through with coaching after they order a mystery shop. Sit down with the employee, and review the video shop together, pointing out what he did well and where he may need to improve or adjust his techniques. Consistent improvement requires consistent coaching and continuing education.
If you have a clear idea of the insights you wish to gain from an employee evaluation from the outset, you’ll find the whole process much more informative, useful, and worth repeating every quarter or every year to help guide and improve your team’s sales success.