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Evaluations, Feedback, and Objective-Setting

Completing a comprehensive and effective performance appraisal is good managerial practice. The purpose of an evaluation, is to provide the employee with a constructive assessment of his/her performance, to highlight the positive attributes, and identify areas (if applicable) to be improved in order to be successful in the position.
The following are tips and suggestions on how to prepare such an evaluation.
Preparing an Evaluation:
Being able to complete a high quality evaluation requires a review of the original objectives that were agreed upon at the beginning of the plan year. If you do not have an objective-setting process, then think back upon the objectives that you expected the employee to achieve.
Which goals were achieved? How?
Which goals were NOT achieved? Why not?
How has performance progressed during the cycle?
How have they contributed to team efforts?
If you have set clear and precise objectives at the beginning of the year, then you can point to the accomplishments and shortcomings, but again if this is not a practice, then assess the level of achievement against established company goals.
How to Handle Problem Performance:
One of the most difficult tasks of a manager is to deliver negative, yet constructive feedback. Often these surprises can be avoided if objectives are established in the beginning of a plan year and you ensure that there is a quarterly review of accomplishments or deficiencies against these agreed upon goals. This ensures no surprises at performance review time.
However, in many companies performance reviews are a once a year event, and can be a painful exercise. One way to ensure that there are no surprises is to consider starting the process with the request of a self-review. This way you the manager have only to respond to the comments presented to you via the self review document and you can be better prepared to structure a response, particularly if you are in disagreement with the perceived level of achievements.
If the preparatory quarterly objective process is not a usual event and a self-review is also not a usual practice then, it is recommended that you consider this process:
If you are dealing with a problem performer, do not commence with the negative comments…start with the positive.
If management commences with a negative comment, they may be met with defensive reactions. Be prepared to read the body signals as your message shifts from the positive to the areas requiring improvement.
Consider how to maintain control of the feedback session to ensure that such tactic maintains a positive tone, but does not prevent you from communicating the areas that need to be addressed.
For example :“The Shift Managers have indicated that you have made a significant contribution which saved payroll, with your suggestion to change the scheduling hook-up of the Dealers.”
If you avoid providing the negative feedback , it may result in the employee continuing to perform in an unsatisfactory manner, without knowing how to improve. In the end this is a no win situation and results in a disgruntled manager who is frustrated and an employee who senses frustration, but is unable to point to the cause.
However, once you have reviewed a positive behavior, occasionally insert an area for improvement. For example:
“However, when you implemented the change, you failed to communicate the rationale for it to the Pit Managers, who received many questions and were unable to explain the reason we changed the hook-ups.”
How can performance be developed?
List the main factors that need to be improved upon, also considering the positive accomplishments. Establish measurable, agreed upon goals.
Performance Feedback when expressed with Ratings:
Many Companies attempt to quantify and employee’s accomplishments as simply as possible via a rating or numerical rank. Since this is one of the sole opportunities to provide recognition for accomplishments and to give feedback, a simple numerical rating without elaborating in objective behavioral terms is a missed opportunity.
However, ratings are often delivered as the opening to the performance appraisal. Some ratings are numerical or are expressed in adjectives. It is suggested that you avoid the rating scenario until you have delivered the words. Ensure that the words mirror the rating for example:
“You consistently deliver a high quality of work and have mastered a creative ability. Your peers consider you to be a consistently top performer with little room for improvement. Therefore you have met most of their expectations and your performance is considered exceptional.”
As soon as that rating is delivered as “exceptional,” expect no further listening on the part of the employee. So avoid giving the initial perception that the rating is exceptional with “little room for improvement” if there are areas in which you expect the employee to improve. Also, descriptive ratings ranging from, “exceptional,” “above average,” “satisfactory,” and “needs improvement “ are more relevant than simple numerical ratings.

So in Summary:

  • Know how to handle problem performance
  • Understand the importance of giving feedback & setting objectives
  • Provide the opportunity to recognize accomplishments
  • Help to develop their abilities and achieve full potential
  • Provide the opportunity to solicit feedback
  • Place emphasis on the performance area that is most critical to role
  • Do not assign a higher rating than deserved to avoid confrontation
  • Do not compare the employee against other individuals, rather than against the standards for the job
  • Do not allow first impressions to distort your evaluation
  • Do not only focus on recent performance
  • Do not allow one single incident to effect your overall perception
  • The assessment and the information conveyed should be objective, factual, accurate, and bias free
  • Provide more evidence for particularly high or low ratings
  • Include details about the situation or task, the action and the result
  • Highlight the best evidence/documentation