HR Corner: The Start of a New Year = Employee Evaluation Time

The New Year brings the anticipation of change, growth and maybe even a little more wisdom. What better time than the new year to evaluate your current employees’ performances? It’s customary for businesses to conduct performance evaluations in January, as the new year always starts with setting new goals, strategic planning and budgets.

While supervisors may not be enthusiastic about delivering performance evaluations, they are important both because inadequate communication can result in negative consequences and because they represent a valuable opportunity to exchange feedback.1 The best performance reviews allow managers and employees to communicate openly, share ideas and opinions, and keep staff productive and motivated.

The purpose of evaluations is to formally document how well employees have met the expectations defined by their job description, give employees the opportunity to do a self-assessment of their performance, identify training and development needed to improve, and support joint decisions to retain, promote or give pay increases.

When preparing for a review, be sure to prep prior to the meeting so that the evaluation goes smoothly and is controlled. Assemble and review all pervious documentation prior to the assessment, such as the position description, performance goals, job responsibilities, assignments and career development. Schedule uninterrupted time for discussing the evaluation; this is an important conversation with the employee and should be done in a private location, such as a manager’s office.

Additionally, fill out the evaluation form prior to the meeting so that you can provide a copy of the evaluation to the employee to review together during the meeting. If you are creating evaluation forms for the first time, be sure to include: areas for improvement, performance goals, action steps, how the employee will continue to be monitored, general performance requirements, and end with a place for the supervisor and the employee to sign. An effective performance evaluation system has standardized evaluation forms, performance measures, feedback guidelines and disciplinary procedures.

Feedback is what performance evaluations are all about. Before you implement your performance evaluation system, make sure that everyone who will be conducting evaluations knows what kind of feedback to give, how to give it and how to get it from the employee in return.2

In closing the evaluation, the final steps are to provide the employee with an updated position description, a copy of the performance plan that was agreed upon by the supervisor and employee, and any other relevant documentation, complete with both signatures.

A good review system helps improve communications, while aiding employees to increase
their own effectiveness and to clarify their own jobs and responsibilities. Just as the New Year does, performance reviews offer the chance for growth, improvement and new outcomes.

Note: It is also advised that once you create an evaluation system to run it by an attorney to identify any potential legal problems and/or receive help with creating a legal-friendly evaluation system.

1 Conducting Performance Evaluations
2 Steps to a Performance Evaluation System