What Are Job Performance Evaluations?

Job performance evaluations are important, and human resource departments may spend many hours making sure that management turns in their completed employee performance evaluations for multiple reasons. Oftentimes, employee performance evaluations are used for determining promotion and rewarding employees for repeated good work. Evaluations may also be used to document workers with poor performance or negative behavior to protect the company in the event of a termination that results in a lawsuit.

Evaluations are a great way to acknowledge an employee's contribution to the company and determine their value to justify the reward of a raise. Not only does an effective evaluation system create a proper system to reward employees, but it also creates fairness, and encourages hard work among employees. For employees who have a performance issue, a personal performance evaluation can help give them attainable goals to improve their workplace employment.

To be effective, job evaluations should contain both positive feedback and areas of improvement so that the employee can identify their strengths and improve upon their weakness. Additionally, performance evaluations should be used as tools to guide the employee toward improvement, and not merely as a report card to receive a pay raise.

How Employee Performance Evaluations Can Reward High-Performing Employees

Employee performance evaluations are a time when management can meet individually with employees to discuss past behaviors, actions, and improvements, and discuss employment performance goals to set for the future. By indicating and outlining expectations of the employee's job, there is less confusion about what is required of the employee's position.

With employee performance evaluations, managers are given the tools to measure individual performance of team members, as well as identify those who are top performers and ensure that they are compensated with a fair pay-for-performance plan.

Performance evaluations can also help management to match the employee's current skills with the skills that would be required for their advancement. They can also help an employee develop an individually based training plan to help facilitate continued education and opportunities for advancement.

Identifying and providing the tools for employees to participate in continued learning and advancement opportunities leads to higher employee satisfaction, higher morale, and improved employee retention. Higher employee satisfaction often leads to higher levels of worker productivity.

How Performance Evaluations Can Identify Areas for Improvement

One of the most important issues to address in employee evaluations is the areas in which the employee can make improvements in order to perform their duties more efficiently. This can be done through the setting of personal goals and designated paths set to achieve them.

Employees will also be able to discuss any difficulties they may have with achieving their set goals, as well as ways to reduce or eliminate the obstacles. In addition to areas of improvement, it is important to spend time focusing on points of success to avoid making the evaluation entirely negative. If the employee has any skills that are lacking, an evaluation is a good opportunity to set up training to complete these skills and improve the employee's overall career path.

How Documentation Can Protect Companies Legally

Documented employee evaluations can help safeguard the company in the event of a lawsuit brought by a disgruntled employee. Employee evaluations and files can provide a more detailed paper trail if the company legal team needs evidence to justify a termination due to unsatisfactory performance.

During a performance evaluation, management will be able to discuss performance issues with the employee, and the employee would be given an opportunity to present their side of the story in regard to poor performance issues or behavioral incidents. 

While documentation is important in the event of a court case, it is also a good tool to allow the employee to know company goals and expectations, and ways that they can help achieve those goals. These evaluations can also be helpful for employees who may have been unclear on expectations and unaware that their current performance is not meeting the required expectations.

Tips for Giving an Effective Performance Evaluation

To help ensure that your employee performance evaluations go smoothly and that appropriate issues are addressed, it is important to follow a few tips and procedures.

  • An employee performance evaluation should not be the first time that an employee is being told negative information about their performance. The evaluation should be a recap of the year and a map to achieving new goals.
  • When starting the evaluation process, it is important to start with the goals that are being set for the employee and move into ways to achieve those goals.
  • During discussion of goals, you should set clear expectations that the employee should follow to achieve those set goals, and how their performance in achieving them will be evaluated.
  • Gather feedback from workers close to the employee who may have a better understanding of their job duties and performance on a day-to-day basis.
  • If a company evaluation uses a pre-filled form, give the employee a copy of the form before the evaluation, so they will be prepared to discuss the information contained in it.
  • The performance review should be held as though it is a conversation with a more casual tone, ensuring that the employee is comfortable speaking and communicating.

A properly prepared and delivered performance review can help strengthen the manager's relationship with the employees, and keep open the lines of communication so that both the manager and employee can work together to ensure that performance goals are met, and that the company vision is achieved.

Putting a Positive Spin on Negative Feedback

Criticism is best received when developed with a more constructive spin. Younger employees often have a harder time dealing with negative feedback as they are unsure what the outcome or consequences will be for under performance.

The motivation behind negative feedback should be to get the employee to understand areas that they need to improve upon, and ways in which they can improve. It is important for managers to remember that positive language can help keep an employee from becoming discouraged and increase their desire to be more productive and goal oriented. Additionally, when managers deliver negative feedback with a positive spin, the employee is more likely to acknowledge that they understand what they are saying and asking of them.

On the employee side, it is important to realize that most managers want their employees to improve and succeed, so when given negative feedback, they should take the feedback calmly, not make excuses, not redirect the conversation, address the problems and ways in which they can overcome them.

All negative feedback should include a goal set or ways to overcome the problems with performance that the employee is having. All of this information should be written down so that it can be made clear to the employee and can avoid misunderstandings in the future.

What Should Be Listed as Positives or Positive Goals in an Evaluation?

The positive in an evaluation can be just as important as the improvement suggestions. By listing the positive aspects of an employee's performance, it will help to keep them motivated and focused, as well as reward them for a job well done. Some of the information that should be touched upon as positives during an evaluation include:

  • Dependability – Does the employee meet deadlines? Do they exhibit responsibility? Are they reliable?
  • Computer Skills – Is the employee proficient with computer skills and software programs? Are they efficient at using online sources or research methods?
  • Adaptability – Can the employee perform a range of duties? Do they handle situations comfortably, and manage change with ease?
  • People Skills – Is the employee cooperative? Do they work well with others? Do they add to a positive work environment?
  • Personal Qualities – Does the employee avoid confrontations? Do they handle high-pressure situations well? Are they sincere? Can they maintain composure?
  • Dedication – Do they take pride in their work? Are they loyal and honest? Do they continue to strive to achieve their goals?
  • Creativity – Do they welcome new ideas? Are they willing to adapt to a changing environment? Are they capable of developing new ideas and strategies?
  • Personal Development – Do they attend classes or training to improve their job skills? Do they set and strive to achieve personal goals?
  • Organizational Skills – Do they work in a systematic method? Are they able to get the job done? Are they organized? Do they excel at planning? Can they make a distinction between productive and nonproductive tasks?

Tips for Evaluating Supervisors

Those in charge of supervisors will also have to come up with a performance evaluation system to evaluate the supervisors in the company. This will often be done by the heads of the departments that the supervisors work for. Supervisor employee evaluations should include:

  • Evaluation Skills – Supervisors should be able to assess employee job performance, and measure employee potential without bias.
  • Administration Skills – They should be able to effectively manage costs, handle details, establish the trust of workers, and delegate appropriately.
  • Leadership – Supervisors should know how to show authority, gain respect, show support, and establish teamwork.
  • Management – They should be a strong company asset, be able to handle a crisis, be able to implement change, promote harmony, and bring out the best in their workers.
  • Interpersonal Skills – Supervisors should have knowledge of the needs and concerns of their team, create a positive work environment, and be able to manage different personalities.

How to Set Up a Performance Management System

Establishing a performance management system can help to provide organization to the information needed for employee evaluation.  To start, management and human resources should meet to discuss and define goals and objectives, as well as how the annual appraisal method will be handled.

Look at each evaluation area and compare it to the job descriptions for several different position levels within the company. Evaluate and set the performance standards for each defined position, and make sure they are reasonable for the level, as well as attainable. Set your goals by using the practice of SMART, which is goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Confer with executive leadership about the company's vision and organizational goals, and establish a combined set of goals that will make up the company performance standards for each job group. Once all the goals have been established, they need to be incorporated into the company employee evaluations.

After being set, it is important to set up a training program that will show supervisors, employees, and managers the new system, and how the annual appraisals and job performance evaluations will be performed.

First Reliance Bank Performance Evaluation Case Study

First Reliance Bank wanted to utilize a performance management system that would allow them to gather pertinent information, conduct employee evaluations, identify competencies by the employee role, set goals and measure them, and create a plan to compensate employees based on performance.

Through its use, First Reliance Bank was able to gain a better understanding of individual group performance, communication gaps, and understanding of employee perception. With this information, the company was able to improve communication, set expectations, and target areas that were in need of improvement.

The increased visibility made employees more accountable for their performance and provided greater knowledge of company goals. It also gave management the tools they needed to measure employee growth, and appropriately assign compensation based on the employee's performance.

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