An employee evaluation is traditionally a periodic opportunity for a manager to review the performance of a worker. This is often a year-end process, following the work anniversary of the employee.
While end-of-year employee evaluations are the more typical way of reviewing performance, in some businesses, a more regular evaluation process is followed – quarterly, monthly and sometimes even a less-formal weekly one-to-one.
In fact, there is some truth to the idea that a more regular schedule for meetings makes a positive difference to employee performance.
How your company chooses to complete the employee evaluation process depends on their needs, but the purpose, structure and results are broadly similar.
An employee evaluation has several benefits to the employee, their manager and the organization.
A regular, expected check-in between managers and employees opens a channel for communication and a way to recognize what is going well and what needs improvement.
It offers an opportunity to recognize achievements, offer further training opportunities and get to know employees better.
A great employee evaluation system creates better communication, leading to increased job satisfaction and employee retention.
It can also help to identify star performers and hidden strengths which might not have been noticed in day-to-day interactions.
Reinforcing workplace expectations and the responsibilities of the role helps to create a benchmark for performance, providing structure to the development of the employee.
Guiding employees to improve and highlighting their strengths leads to increased positive performance and therefore better profitability.
A satisfied, challenged workforce is part of what makes a great company culture too.
Discovering where you are exceeding expectations, as well as finding ways to overcome any weaknesses through training opportunities, makes for a satisfying outcome to the process.
Employees often have an opportunity to perform some sort of self-evaluation, whether in the form of a questionnaire or a wordy description. The opportunity to compare a personal review and that of a manager allows employees to see if they agree with their managers regarding their performance.
A well-executed evaluation can uncover hidden strengths and offer insights. It can also help with achieving a pay raise, working towards a promotion or just making sure that you are working to the best of your abilities.
If regular evaluations do not happen, it can be difficult to move forward with employee development and ensure that every worker is helping to achieve the company goals.
Employees may also feel undervalued and that they aren’t important enough to discuss development, pay raises or even promotions.
Although the actual format and structure of the employee evaluation process will change from company to company, there are a few common features that you can expect.
A performance review tends to be a formal meeting between an employee and a manager.
To prepare, the manager will normally review the employee’s performance throughout the year and compare this to previous evaluations, if available.
The employee might have to complete a self-evaluation form.
The manager will usually create a document before the meeting and use the face-to-face time to openly discuss the results.
The employee evaluation will go over the employee’s performance in terms of:
- Communication skills
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Work quality and performance
- Attendance, including punctuality and reliability
- Dealing with deadlines
- Reaching goals
- Company-related competencies
- Specific role competencies
- Future career goals
Each section will be presented with examples of what has worked – and what hasn’t.
A refresh of the specific job description will help the manager and the worker to understand what skills and behaviors should be demonstrated – and that gives a great baseline for comparison.
If there are previous evaluations, these should also be discussed so that the goals outlined there can be recorded as achieved, as well as highlighting what else the employee has done since – such as extra training or certifications.
The previous evaluations can also show what has not worked so well over the last year.
A great employee evaluation will recognize the worker’s strengths through both key accomplishments and where they specialize. It will also show areas that need to be developed, describing the skills and attributes that are opportunities for improvement.
Development, both in strong areas and in those needing improvement, needs actionable goals.
SMART goals that link to the wider company goals are a great way to allow workers to demonstrate improvement because they have measurable results. They also give employees a focus for the year ahead.
If there are any problems with performance or if something hasn’t been achieved, then constructive feedback can suggest different ways to improve.
This might mean suggesting further training, looking at specialism in a different area or a step-by-step process towards improvement.
As part of the performance review process, you should take the opportunity to complete a self-evaluation. This gives you, the employee, a starting point for discussion during the meeting and allows you to demonstrate ways in which you have exceeded expectations and improved through the year.
For a valuable experience, managers should invite workers to discuss both strengths and weaknesses as well as any plans for goals and development. This communication allows both people to take ownership of the process and reduces the risk of a worker disagreeing with their evaluation.
Employee evaluations are an important part of the process used to consider pay raises, promotions and even layoffs.
Therefore, a process should be in place for the employee to appeal their evaluation if they feel it is not accurate. This might be through their manager or via a formal meeting with HR.
It is essential that, as an employee, you take full advantage of the evaluation process so that you have as much of a say in the review as you can, and that you are happy with the result and the actions that you need to take.
There are legal considerations regarding employee evaluations.
As they carry weight with the decisions regarding the future of an employee in a business, for better or for worse, they must be accurate.
This might seem obvious but there are a few reasons why an employee evaluation might not truly reflect performance:
In some businesses, there are targets for managers to rate their team a certain way. They might, therefore, mark an employee up or down depending on these targets.
Some managers may find it uncomfortable to criticize a worker’s performance. So to avoid conflict, they mark them highly instead of working towards improvement.
Whatever the reason, an employee evaluation can be part of a subpoena in a legal case – which means that if an employee is let go as part of a layoff, it can become evidence in a wrongful dismissal case.
As previously mentioned, all employee evaluations are different in their structure, layout and even content, but the example below will give you an idea of what to expect.
In this example, the worker is Andrew Sample and the manager is Louise Imaginary. They work for a digital marketing agency that is looking to expand over the next year.
Employee: Andrew Sample
Manager: Louise Imaginary
Andrew was tasked with achieving an SEO certification to improve his performance and to allow him to move into new areas within the business. Andrew has achieved the certification and has already begun to apply his new knowledge in his day-to-day work.
In his previous evaluation, Andrew expressed an interest in gaining more managerial experience with the goal of promotion, and this is still in progress.
Andrew works well with his team and with customers; he is always polite and attentive. He helps his team to achieve their goals and is not afraid to take the lead on projects.
Andrew has suffered some ill-health through the last year but has made sure that the business has not suffered in his absence. He always makes sure he is on time for work every day and gives his full attention to tasks assigned to him. He is conscientious with deadlines, working diligently to make sure that he completes all his work.
This year Andrew has had several customer reviews that have highlighted the high-quality performance that he brings to his projects. Andrew is recognized externally and internally for his attention to detail and accuracy.
Andrew is an enthusiastic member of the team who brings a sense of fun to the workplace. When he applies himself to a project, he encourages everyone to take part and is a vivacious team player. He is well-liked by customers and peers.
He has a strong commitment to completing projects and makes sure that the team is all on board. With his newfound knowledge of SEO, Andrew can direct other team members to include the principles in their work.
Andrew can sometimes be too enthusiastic, making it difficult for the more reserved members of the team to work with him. I think that Andrew would benefit from some specific management training to help him find the right ways to approach and encourage team members who aren’t necessarily appreciative of his direct management approach.
Andrew and I have been working together to improve his attendance this year and we have created a process that has mitigated some of the difficulties. We are working towards improving that this year.
Andrew needs to attend CPA Management training. Louise will arrange a training course for him. This is relevant for the role that Andrew is currently in, as well as for his future aspirations to be promoted to management. We will aim to complete this by the end of the first quarter.
Andrew needs to continue to improve his attendance. This is relevant to improving his performance and making sure he is a great candidate for promotion. This is already improving, and we need to work towards better results by mid-year.
Andrew feels that his performance this year has been outstanding, and he is pleased with what he has achieved. He is most pleased with the positive reviews that he has received from his customers.
He knows that his attendance has been a problem, but he is working with Louise to make a difference in this. Andrew is excited about the opportunity to take on additional training and is open to all types of learning. He wants to ensure that he has learned good management skills by the time an opportunity arises.
Performance reviews are important for employees, managers and the wider business. The way that they are administered might be different from company to company, but the underlying reasoning is the same.
For the worker, a good employee evaluation process can provide the path to a pay raise and even a promotion, offering routes for improvement, training and development in different areas.
For the manager, employee evaluations offer a formal way to approach workers to discuss both achievements and development needs.
For the company, an effective employee evaluation process improves the employee experience and develops a positive company culture, both of which help to reduce staff turnover and improve productivity.
Whether you are an employee or a manager, taking full advantage of a great employee evaluation process can improve performance, collaboration and communication.