Delivering Employee Performance Evaluations Can Be A Challenge

Make Employee Goal Setting Part of the Process

Performance evaluations are a challenge for most managers to do well. Learn how you can deliver a balanced evaluation that improves performance. Use tools like free employee evaluation forms, employee goal setting and employee warning notice to produce more effective reviews.

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The purpose of employee evaluations is to provide positive feedback that encourages good results and that corrects less positive outcomes.

Yet typically both the manager and the employee do not like these evaluations. Why? Because performance evaluations are hard to do right and they are therefore challenging to write and deliver; and they are also challenging to listen to.

Make sure your employees understand the evaluation process, review the process with new hires during the new employee orientation process.

Your human resources issues can become more of a challenge if you and your staff don't learn how to do effective performance reviews.

Employee Warning Notice and Performance

If an employee is not working at an acceptable level do not wait for the employee appraisal to provide feedback. The feedback process should be immediate and ongoing. First, provide verbal feedback. If no improvement, then provide a written employee warning notice. If still no improvement, you need to make a decision in terms of whether or not the employee can be trained to do the job you need them to do.

Not one of us is perfect, we all need to improve. Build an employee development plan for each employee: focus on specific training and goals (e.g. improve performance, or prepare for additional responsibilities, etc.).

We need to focus on doing better step-by-step; that's how you get consistent, sustained improvement. Firing employees who are performing poorly is not the right answer. Evaluating employees regularly, and developing training and development programs is a good method of developing stronger performing employees.

Free Employee Evaluation Forms

You can access free employee evaluation forms or templates from a number of sources. Check out your trade or industry association's website. Talk to your local business association. Go online and search for templates or forms on human resource association websites. Then adapt the form to best-fit your organization.

It is best to use a standardized form for your evaluation or appraisal program because, by standardizing, you will ensure that your employees are reviewed on criteria and parameters consistently. That is, if quality, safety and customer service are the most important focal points for your business, then all employees should be evaluated against those points.

Before you do the evaluation, review the employee's job description and ensure that it is up-to-date and clearly identifies the job requirements. If applicable, talk about the employee's performance with other supervisors - particularly if you need to confirm your perspective of an individual's performance. If there are no other employees to talk to, call up a key customer or supplier who has contact with the employee and ask how they feel about the service they receive from the individual.

As a manager, keep your focus on recognizing the value your employee brings to their job, and how they can improve. Do not put together a shopping list of improvements. I've asked managers who write performance evaluations to limit items for improvement and/or poor performance issues to not more than 5; and preferably not more than 3.

The reason to limit the needed improvements is to ensure that employees are not overwhelmed with how poorly they are doing and how much they need to improve. It is an interesting exercise to ask both your employee and the supervisor or manager who conducted the review whether they viewed it as a positive or negative review. (Often their opinions differ.)


Sadly, I have had many managers tell me they gave positive reviews; yet when I asked their employees how they felt after the review, they told me that the review was hugely negative.

Why the opposite perspectives? Because the managers felt that the employees knew that the good comments (even if only a few of them) outweighed the areas of improvement. However the employees felt that there was so much to improve upon, according to the review, that they couldn’t be doing a very good job.

My advice to managers who write performance evaluations is to ensure that they find AT LEAST the same number of good things to say about the performance as they can find improvements to focus on – even if the employee’s performance is simply adequate, rather than good.


Employee Goal Setting

Performance evaluations need to include joint employer and employee goal setting. If the employee participates in setting goals, then he/she will be more committed to attaining the goals. Goals need to be measurable and could include objectives like:

  • Improve customer service - as measured by an annual customer satisfaction survey.
  • Handle 20% more incoming calls. Or making 20% more outgoing sales calls. Or both.
  • Improve accuracy - as measured by statistical data collected.
  • Improve quality - as measure by quality data collected.
  • Improve attendance. Improve on-time work habits.
  • Improve house-keeping - particularly in a manufacturing facility.
  • Improve safety: both personal safety and departmental safety.

There are many objectives that you can use. Employee goal setting should not result in a long list of goals - they need to be attainable and they should not be so many that it's hard for the employee to focus. The recommended number might be about 5 goals for the upcoming time period being evaluated.

Done well, employee performance appraisals help to improve performance and commitment. Done poorly, they can hurt performance and morale.

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