I often rail against the typical, formulaic performance evaluation. So, if typical performance evaluation forms aren’t effective for communicating a manager’s desired performance from employees, then what is?
Simple . . . a little something I like to call, “communication”. (Assuming you did a decent job of hiring a qualified, sane person for the job in the first place.)
I’m a big proponent of the adage a la Oprah that when “people know better, they do better”. And for employees to know what “better” looks like, managers have to talk to them. In turn, for managers to talk to employees, managers can’t be conflict avoidant. So here are some tips for giving performance feedback to your employees:
Focus on an employee’s strengths.
If possible, assign employees to work on tasks and projects that will utilize their strengths. They still must be able to perform the essential job functions, but when there’s a choice steer them to what they do best.
Communicate clear expectations to employees.
One of the biggest misconceptions managers have is that the employee SHOULD know what to do and how to do it. Or that the employee interpreted the boss’s directions exactly how the boss intended them. Wrong. That’s why we have managers to make sure everyone’s on the same page.
Talk to employees about their work daily, weekly, and monthly.
It’s a manager’s job to talk to employees about their work, whether things are going well or whether there are problems. To do this, meet with employees at the outset of a new project to clarify your expectations and to get their input; check in with the employee regularly on an on-going basis to see if changes are required; and after the work has been done debrief with the employee to help reflect on what went right, what didn’t turn out so well, and what might be done in the future to achieve the best possible outcome.
Put your observations about an employee’s work in writing.
Whether an employee excels at the work or whether the employee’s work is shoddy, have a conversation with the employee about their work and put your observations in writing (give a copy to the employee). Letters of commendation, letters of warning, and letters of reprimand should also be placed in the employee’s personnel file.
By following these actions, managers are able to create performance feedback that is more effective, timely, and believable than using the typical pre-fab performance evaluation form.