CONDUCTING EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS By Steven B. Schwartzman, Esq. •"This lady has delusions of adequacy." communication between employees and managers, and provides an outlet for employees to air their •"This employee should go far - and the sooner he grievances. Efficiency can be increased by giving starts, the better." employees the opportunity to correct problems before they escalate. Also, employees who know that their •"This employee is depriving a village somewhere of performance is consistently documented and included an idiot." in their personnel file may be more likely to forgo litigation. Of course, a program of performance The above statements are rumored to be from evaluations may be a double-edged sword. An actual employee performance evaluations. Employee employee who is fired for poor performance may have evaluations not only are an essential management tool, a good shot at winning in court if the employee can but they can be an effective weapon in deterring show a series of satisfactory performance appraisals. employment litigation, or defending your business if you are sued. Of course, managers and supervisors A new employee should receive a should be trained in the basics of evaluations, or else performance evaluation fairly soon after he/she is you may wind up with comments like the ones above - hired. It is easier to correct performance deficiencies - comments which are not only ill-advised, but which at the outset, before they become ingrained problems. actually may encourage litigation instead of deterring The initial evaluation should go hand-in-hand with the it. end of an employee's introductory evaluation period. Thereafter, evaluations should be conducted on a Even smaller businesses can benefit from consistent basis. However, be careful not to make having a formal evaluation program. An evaluation promises you cannot keep. As a practical matter, a program allows you to document performance-related promise to evaluate each employee before his/her problems. As most businesses have learned, the three anniversary date is not always possible. most important factors in defending an administrative charge or lawsuit are documentation, documentation Make certain that the evaluation criteria is and documentation. A record of evaluations will uniform and based on objective concerns. The refresh your managers' recollections and establish your appraisal form itself is very important and should be efforts to work with an employee. It is more difficult periodically reviewed by counsel. Be careful to steer to terminate an employee for poor performance when clear of "personal opinion," "belief," or "conjecture." you have never conducted a performance evaluation or Supervisors should not inject subjective bias into the documented how an employee is failing to meet your evaluation process. All performance criteria should be business' expectations. reasonably related to the employee's job. If the evaluation is unsatisfactory, be prepared to offer the Many employees are consistent under- employee concrete ways in which he/she can improve. performers, yet they may never violate any particular Be careful that you do not appear to be setting up an work rules. If the only time you record problems in an employee to fail or merely "building a file" by employee's personnel file is when the employee makes establishing unrealistic goals or timetables. a mistake or when you issue discipline, the employee may go on for some time with no record of how he/she Supervisors should be trained in how to give is under-performing. If the employee is a member of a fair, honest and constructive appraisals. They should protected class, terminating him/her may be make certain that nothing they say in an evaluation troublesome if you have no record of under- violates state or federal equal employment opportunity performance. Courts and agencies may assume that an laws. They also should avoid the tendency to group all employee was performing satisfactorily unless there is employees as "satisfactory" or "meets expectations." evidence to the contrary. While there may be a reluctance to give employees bad news, without laying a foundation you will have a harder time terminating poor performers. Also, a A program of regular evaluations increases supervisor should carefully review an employee's prior reviews. If the same criticisms are applicable, they should be mentioned again, otherwise the employee may think they are no longer in issue. Finally, make sure that an employee signs his/her review. Employees often will claim in court that they did not receive a particular evaluation. The employee should understand that his/her signing of the review does not mean that he/she agrees with everything in it, but only that the employee has been presented with the evaluation and that it has been discussed. An employee may be more willing to sign a review where the employee has had an opportunity to add his/her comments.
Pages to are hidden for
"CONDUCTING EFFECTIVE PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS"Please download to view full document