Guest Author - Dianne Walker
Today is the day that you need to give your employee their performance evaluation. Itís been circled on your calendar for months. Whether you have spent the last twelve months preparing or you wrote it at the last minute - conducting a performance evaluation meeting is never easy. If the evaluation is tied into a merit increase, that makes the task just that much harder. Some supervisors actually circumvent the meeting by placing the evaluation in an envelope and slipping it on the employeeĎs chair. Performance evaluation day will probably never be a breeze, but there are some ways to make it easier.
1. Prepare the evaluation well in advance. Unless you know the employee is going to pull some sort of outrageous stunt, start preparing the evaluation at least 30 days prior to the due date. This will give you plenty of time to prepare a well written evaluation.
2. Prepare an agenda/checklist for the meeting. Incorporate some of the evaluation highlights that you want to cover. There may also be items that you want to discuss that may not be included in the evaluation. Have all of your documentation ready in a folder. Make sure that you make a copy for the employee.
3. Set aside at least an hour on your calendar. It may take less, then again, it may take more. Try not to schedule any heavy duty meetings on either side of the evaluation meeting. If itís scheduled before an important meeting, your mind will be on preparing for that meeting instead of the evaluation. If itís after an important meeting, you will be too concerned about those action plans. Your employee deserves your undivided attention.
4. If the evaluation is going to be particularly difficult due to the rating, try to hold it at the end of the day. This will give the employee the opportunity to go home shortly after the meeting. This will save them from having to face their peers or be disgruntled for the rest of the day. Use the opposite theory if itís a particularly stellar evaluation. Good news at the beginning of the day, makes for a great day.
5. Donít be surprised, however, if they donít act the way you expected. Have you ever given a great evaluation to someone who thought they should have received an outstanding evaluation? You spent hours writing about their achievements and they are still just not happy. What you thought would produce a smile and heartfelt thanks, produces anger and arguments instead.
6. Have the employee rate their own performance. Have them submit their document to you ahead of the evaluation meeting. This way you can see their take on their own performance. You may be surprised at how different the evaluations are. If youíre going to ask for this self-written document, take time to read it and be prepared to discuss why your ratings do not match.
7. Hand the employee their copy of the evaluation a day or so in advance. This is not the same as slipping it on their chair with no further comments. Let them know that you are giving them time to review it so that they can come in prepared to talk about the evaluation and their performance. This will help with a couple of things. First, it will allow the employee to get over the initial shock, that should not occur (remember youĎve talked about their performance all year long). Second, it will give them time to prepare a rebuttal if necessary.
8. Stick to your convictions. What happens when the employee doesnít agree with your evaluation of their performance? Do you give in and immediately make changes? Nothing would be easier than to write a fluffy evaluation or give in to their demands for upgrades. If you have spent the necessary time documenting their performance and can provide examples - stand by your performance evaluation. If you give the impression that you will run at the first hint of trouble - respect goes out the window.
9. End on a high note. While the evaluation may not be great, find a positive note to end on. Express your confidence that if their performance was lackluster, they can improve. Let them know that you have high expectations, but you are confident that they can attain them. Set up a follow-up date to go over any developmental areas that need improvement.
Conducting performance evaluation meetings is never easy. No one likes to hear bad news. Even if itís good news it may not be as well received as you thought. Be prepared, deliver the evaluation with compassion and conviction and the hour will go by faster then you expect.