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MECA Consulting Blog

Evaluation Your Performance Evaluation

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Are you getting what you need out of your evaluations?

Face it—no one likes performance evaluations. Employees dislike or fear hearing they are not performing up to expectations. Managers struggle with how to effectively balance constructive criticism and praise for a job well done. That being said, performance evaluations are helpful as a way to measure and discuss actual performance against expected performance. If done correctly, these performance evaluations can enhance the staff member motivations, productivity, and development. There is no ONE WAY to do a performance evaluation and every staff member and every manager has a slightly different approach. That being said, there are a few key points to think about.

There is no ONE way or perfect way but there are some ideas to help streamline the process. I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about both the factual part of a job performance meeting as well as the emotional side of how to do this well. 

1.     How often?  There is no clear cut frequency of WHEN to do an evaluation. Candidly, it should be a daily event that happens with small comments, suggestions and praise and not a quarterly or yearly type of process. By addressing concerns and praise on a daily basis, the manger can affect meaningful change in behavior and there is clear communication about expectations, met or not. A more formal event may be necessary with some staff members, but not all.

2.     How long does it take?  In most instances, evaluations, even formal ones, should only take 15-20 minutes. Don’t drag it out. Say what you need to say and move on. Having to fill space creates conversational problems.

3.     What does it include?  We once again go back to a job description? A performance evaluation has its basis around the expectations of the skills, responsibilities and duties set forward in the job description. The language should be brief and sincere. If it is not, then don’t say it. Keep the language measurement oriented. Richard Grote, author of "How to Be Good at Performance Appraisals" (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), noted that action words are more meaningful — words such as "excels," "exhibits," "demonstrates," "grasps," "generates," "manages," "possesses," "communicates," "monitors," "directs" and "achieves."

4.     What not to include?  Try to avoid connecting a performance evaluation with a salary adjustment. Though they sound like they should go hand-in-hand, there becomes an expectation of a raise (or the mental or emotional letdown if a financial increase does not occur). All of this leads to unrealistic expectations and wage creep. 

5.     Timeline of events (schedule these so you don’t forget)

Two weeks before (20-80 minutes)

§  Notify staffer one week before so they can prepare their self-evaluation. 

·      Print or send their performance evaluation (build your own or save time and download ours).

·      Give them a copy of their most current job description (If you don’t have ones already prepared we may be able to save you a lot of time by downloading one of ours form our Resource Library).   

§  Get feedback from others (both other staff members and consumers). Document it.

§  Schedule yourself 30-60 minutes to complete your own evaluation. 

Day prior:  (2 Minutes).  Exchange your review with your staff’s self-review so both parties have a chance to digest what is being said. 

Evaluation day:

·  Review your evaluation.  

·  Read your staff’s evaluation. 

·  Review job description. 

·  Develop game plan of 5-6 talking points. What did they do well? What areas do they need to improve?   

·  List potential job description revisions. 

During the Meeting:   Start with personal questions to lighten the mood.  

·  Review purpose of the meeting.

·  Review what you hope to accomplish

·  Review staff’s self-evaluation. Listen - don’t talk. Summarize points. Allow them to express their needs, wants, and expectations.

·  Review your evaluation. Listen to feedback. Take notes. 

·  Discuss goals and timelines for next meeting (use our SMART goals sheet).

·  Discuss and come to agreement upon changes to job description. 

·  Sign and countersign evaluations (copy if necessary).

Following day:  Thank them for their time and input.

Are you giving your staff what they need?

In the end, managers are really coaches. Are we giving them what they need to improve their performance? I always try to think of it as I need to train them to be someone that everyone else wants to hire away from me. This comes in the form of tools, knowledge, and skills they need to improve their professional lives and my business.

Best wishes and let us know if we can help in any way,


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