Employee Evaluations Phrases - PDF

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					                                                                                                                                 June 25, 2006

                            Evaluating Employee Performance: Tips and Pitfalls
                                                        by Jennifer Brown Shaw
Many employers evaluate their employees’          To be effective, performance evaluations         10 years. To avoid this problem, employers
performance at some point during the em-          should include the following: (1) an evalu-      should be objective, honest, and accurate
ployment relationship, such as annually or        ation of factors relevant to the performance     when preparing evaluations and during the
at the conclusion of an introductory period.      of the job; (2) an objective, honest, and        evaluation meeting with the employee.
Often, however, these employers conduct           accurate description of the performance
                                                                                                   Be timely. Evaluations should be conducted
performance reviews as a matter of course         that pinpoints specific facts and behavioral
                                                                                                   in accordance with the time period set by
without knowing why it is important to do         examples; and (3) the identification of
                                                                                                   the employer. Employers who are late in
so. Some supervisors and managers also are        performance or developmental goals that
                                                                                                   conducting evaluations may be perceived
unaware of legal issues associated with con-      are specific, measurable, and time-bound.
                                                                                                   as inattentive to employees’ needs and
ducting performance evaluations thoroughly        Employers should consider creating a writ-
                                                                                                   not interested in employees’ professional
and accurately.                                   ten “checklist” for evaluators to ensure each
                                                  of these elements is covered.
Why Are Performance Evaluations
                                                                                                   Use evaluations to improve performance.
Important?                                        Practical Tips for Employers
                                                                                                   Because productivity and good performance
Improving employees’ performance is the           In addition to the general guidelines dis-       are the primary goals of any business opera-
primary reason for conducting performance         cussed above, employers should consider          tion, performance evaluations should be
evaluations. Most employees want to un-           the following tips to ensure a successful        used to encourage employees to improve
derstand where they are succeeding in their       performance evaluation process.                  their work product.
jobs and where their performance could be
                                                  Use evaluations to motivate and develop          Engage in regular performance feedback.
improved. Providing employees with regular
                                                  employees. Encouraging employees and             Even if employers conduct formal, writ-
feedback allows them to enhance their dem-
                                                  praising good performance is a good way          ten evaluations only on an annual basis,
onstrated skills and improve in areas where
                                                  to motivate people and can be much more          employees should be given opportunities
needed. It also increases productivity.
                                                  effective than frequent criticism.               throughout the review period to correct per-
Another important reason for conducting                                                            formance problems and should be praised
                                                  Of course, constructive criticism is an
formal evaluations is to create a written re-                                                      for good work.
                                                  important part of an employee’s evaluation.
cord of an employee’s performance. When a
                                                  However, to avoid the unpleasantness that        What about self-evaluations and 180 degree
personnel decision must be made -- whether
                                                  may be associated with providing construc-       evaluations? An effective performance evalu-
positive or negative -- it is important to have
                                                  tive feedback, some employers have a ten-        ation process should be a two-way street.
a written record of the employee’s perfor-
                                                  dency to “inflate” performance evaluations.      Employees who are encouraged to evaluate
mance to substantiate the action taken.
                                                  While this is understandable, it can             their supervisors’ and managers’ perfor-
Documenting good performance justifies
                                                  be dangerous.                                    mance are more likely to take the process
favorable action if challenged by another
                                                                                                   seriously and participate in a more mean-
employee who does not receive the same            For instance, in defending a wrongful termi-
                                                                                                   ingful way.
benefit. Similarly, if a disgruntled em-          nation lawsuit on the grounds the termina-
ployee sues or files an agency charge, written    tion was for good cause, e.g., poor perfor-      Employers also should consider implement-
performance reviews, if done properly, can        mance, the employer may have a difficult         ing a “self-evaluation” process to obtain
provide crucial evidence for the employer,        time convincing the jury to render a verdict     feedback regarding employees’ perceptions
particularly when the dispute is perfor-          in its favor if the employee has received “ex-   of their performance. Thorough an interac-
mance-related.                                    ceeds expectations” evaluations for the past     tive evaluation process, employers may re-
ceive valuable feedback on training, benefits,        Ensure everyone understands the evaluation
and other issues important for employee               process. Good communication is the key to
retention.                                            success in the workplace. Because written
                                                      evaluation forms are often long and filled
Be consistent. Each performance evaluation
                                                      with ambiguous codes or phrases, employ-
should be considered part of a continuing
                                                      ers should consider beginning the evalua-
appraisal of an employee’s performance.
                                                      tion meeting with a clear explanation of the
Evaluators should review prior evaluations
                                                      process. In addition, all employees should
and seek to expand upon areas discussed
                                                      be provided with information regarding the
previously. If continuity is not appropriate,
                                                      evaluation process when they are hired, and
the reasons for this should be apparent in
                                                      supervisors and managers should receive
the evaluations.
                                                      additional training on how to prepare and
Carefully consider the location of the evalu-         conduct effective performance evaluations.
ation interviews. Preparing the performance
                                                      Management sets the tone for performance
evaluation is only the first part of the
                                                      evaluations. As such, it is important for
process. The evaluation also must be com-
                                                      all supervisors and managers to receive an
municated to the employee. When conduct-
                                                      occasional reminder of the importance of
ing the evaluation meeting, the evaluator
                                                      the evaluation process. Done right and done
should give 100% of his or her time and
                                                      regularly, evaluations are an essential part of
attention to the employee. The discussion of
                                                      an employer’s overall success. They also will
the evaluation is a significant event for the
                                                      assist employers in the event employees take
employee, and the evaluator should seek to
                                                      legal action to challenge adverse employ-
convey an understanding and appreciation
                                                      ment decisions.
of this fact to the employee.
Schedule sufficient time for the evalua-
tion meeting. In addition to selecting the
right location and setting for the evalua-
tion meeting, the evaluator should ensure
adequate time is devoted to the discussion.
Many employees consider the performance
evaluation meeting a unique opportunity to
engage in dialogue with their supervisors or
managers. These employees will appreciate
the scheduling of sufficient time to cover the
evaluation in detail and discuss questions
and concerns.

Reprinted by permission of The Daily Recorder.

                           Jennifer Brown Shaw is a partner
                           at Shaw Valenza LLP. Her practice
                           includes providing regular advice
                           and counsel to private and
                           public sector employers. She also
                           develops and presents seminars              300 Montgomery Street, Suite 788   520 Capitol Mall, Suite 630
                           on legal issues in the workplace            San Francisco, California 94104    Sacramento, California 95814
                           for management and non-super-               Tel: (415) 983-5960                Tel: (916) 326-5150
                           visory employees.                           Fax: (415) 983-5963                Fax: (916) 497-0708

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