An employee’s evaluation document should fit his or her position. While not absolutely necessary, it may be appropriate to have separate documents for categories of positions, such as clerical, laborers, professional, etc.
The evaluation categories should be as specific as possible, and should address individual performance toward job tasks, and also how the individual contributes to the workforce morale.
The evaluation document should include rating criteria on all aspects of the position that are truly important. This can be most easily done by taking job descriptions of several employees and comparing them to the employees’ performance evaluation forms.
Finally, the written descriptions of the performance criteria being evaluated should involve factors which are capable of objective evaluation relevant to the job in question.
B. Training Evaluators
Training individuals who will conduct performance evaluations is arguably even more important than the form of the written performance evaluation document. Evaluators must be trained on the basics of employment law, especially employment discrimination law, and to avoid protected categories (such as sex, race, age, disability, etc.) during the performance review process. Evaluators should also be trained to tie specific examples of behavior to each comment to every extent possible.
C. The Evaluation Meeting Itself
First, the employee’s direct supervisor or a manager with direct knowledge of the employee’s performance during the review period should conduct the evaluation. However, a higher-level manager should provide second-level approval to ensure its accuracy and fairness.
Next, a discussion between the employee and supervisor regarding the performance evaluation should occur face-to-face, if at all possible. Getting together face-to-face reinforces the employer’s commitment to the employee’s success at the organization.
The evaluation of the employee should remain focused on that specific employee, not on comparing the employee to co-workers.
Avoid overinflated evaluations, which have a ripple effect on other employees, suggesting that mediocrity is not only tolerated, but rewarded – and can come back to bite an employer in a lawsuit.
The employee should leave the evaluation with clear, objective goals to achieve in a defined time period. Doing so will assist the evaluator with a benchmark to review the employee’s performance over time.
After the evaluation has been discussed with the employee, the employee should have the opportunity to comment on the form and sign it to avoid claims that they did not see their evaluation, or do not remember reading it. If an employee refuses to sign the evaluation, note this on the document.
D. After the Evaluation
An employer’s work is not complete after the annual evaluation. Rather, employers can increase the perception that they have treated the employee fairly by offering the employee the opportunity to appeal. In addition, employers should provide year-round, real-time feedback to employees.
Checklist for Performance Evaluations
— Create separate performance evaluation forms for each category of positions (clerical, laborers, professional, etc.)
— Be sure the forms are consistent with job descriptions, written or otherwise
— Make the evaluation categories cover all important functions of the position, and make them as specific as possible
— Train evaluators on the basics of employment law, including avoiding insulting or discriminatory comments, using objective, rather than subjective, observations
— Understand that evaluations are corrective, not punitive
— Have direct supervisors or managers with personal knowledge of the employee’s performance conduct a discussion on the written evaluation and sign the form
— Have the evaluation meeting face-to-face (if at all possible)
— Evaluators should include both positive comments as well as suggestions for areas of development in the review
— Evaluators should be (brutally) honest regarding unacceptable performance by the employee and his or her needed areas for development
— Evaluators should detail specific instances of the employee’s errors, shortcomings, and achievements, not general personality traits
— The evaluation should remain focused on the employee, rather than on a comparison to co-workers
— The employee should read and sign the written evaluation form (a refusal to sign should be noted on the form)
— Both the evaluator and the employee should leave the discussion with clear goals for future performance
— The employee should be given the opportunity to appeal the performance review, with a carefully-designed appeal process
— Supervisors should continuously provide feedback to the employee – don’t wait until the next review season to spring surprises on the employee regarding his or her performance.