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The Art of Preparing Performance Evaluations

Supervisor 101 - a performance evaluation should never be a surprise. All supervisors are taught this lesson from day one, but how often does that ring true? So often performance evaluations are the crick in the neck of many supervisors - difficult to write and harder to give. Why is it so difficult to write performance evaluations? What is it about looking into the eyes of an employee and talking about their performance that makes supervisors cringe at the thought? Here is some guidance to help you get through your next performance evaluation.

1. Preparing for the evaluation does not begin two weeks after it was due to the employee. Preparing for the evaluation should begin the day after the last evaluation. If you don’t have a file for each of your employees, it’s time to get it started. It doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. It can be a small notebook or a word document. You may also need a hard copy file folder for documentation. This is where you are going to document not only discussions or problems, but also things that you caught them doing right. Twelve months is a long time to remember an e-mail that you received from that satisfied client. Stick to the facts about job performance, knowledge and skills. Don’t write subjective opinions on how Sally got on your last nerve today. Taking five minute to jot down a comment now, will save you untold amounts of time later trying to remember what transpired over the year.

2. As you go through the year, take time to meet with your employees. There is nothing worse then telling an employee that they have prepared a report wrong all year and ding them for it in their evaluation. “You never told me,” is a legitimate battle cry for many employees. One on one meetings discussing their work will provide them the opportunity to improve their performance before evaluation time. It will also give them the opportunity to discuss issues that may be bothering them. If possible, try to schedule one on one meetings at specific intervals and let the employee know that is “their time.” Document these discussions as well. We will discuss dealing with problem employees at a later date.

3. Did I mention documentation? You’ve heard of “document, document, document.” If I am addressing poor writing or message taking skills to my administrative assistant, you better believe that I will have copies for examples to show her. If I have an employee that is continuously late, there is a notation on my calendar each day on how late they arrived. Documentation has often been the difference between a lawsuit and a successful termination.

4. Finally, look for the good as well as the not so good. If an employee does five things wrong, but one thing really well - be sure to mention that one thing.

An effective supervisor should practice performance management, rather than merely writing performance evaluations. Performance management allows you to improve behavior throughout the year. Practicing performance management, talking to your employees and documenting throughout the year, will decrease the annual headache of trying to prepare an performance evaluation from scratch when it’s due.

Stay tune next time for more in the performance evaluation series.

1 - Performance evaluation day - What should transpire during the meeting
2 - How to receive a performance evaluation


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