Ok, so how many people in your company do you know that get excited when they hear the words “performance evaluation”. Chances are, not many. Regular evaluations are a bit like regular checkups at the doctor. Yes, it’s for your own good, but that doesn’t mean you’re enthused when you’re on the way there. However, done right, performance evaluations will keep your team on track and motivated.
After all, measuring and tracking are a part of human nature. Even in our daily activities, we look to see how many calories we burned, how many pages we read, and how much closer we are to achieving our goals. So your objective has to be to make the progress tracking system work for your staff and not against it. In this spirit, we’ve compiled 7 steps to implement an informative evaluation system.
1. Check the current evaluation format/method
No matter what stage you are at in developing your performance evaluation, it’s good to see what you already have. What’s working? What parts are falling flat? Particularly, be mindful of:
- What intervals you evaluate your employees
- How often you give them feedback
- Any bias in the evaluation process that may exist
- Whether or not the evaluation system you have in place honestly helps them improve
Next, look at your goals. What do you want to accomplish by having an evaluation system in place? Once you’ve clarified that, cross those answers with your company’s values and company culture. This will help you note whether your evaluation process is serving your company and your employees or not. For instance, if your HR team senses that an overwhelming amount of employee evaluations are awkward and catch your staff by surprise, these are typical indicators that something is off.
2. Set performance indicators
When setting performance indicators, a good place to start is to look at the job description by which you hired any given employee. True enough, that list will not take into account soft skills or social interactions, but it’s a solid foundation.
Your performance indicators can be broken down into quantitative and qualitative. Take a software engineer, for example. You will probably consider how many projects they are able to complete on time.
At Flux, we capitalize on self-development and even offer learning hours where employees can learn new skills while at the office. These types of development and training opportunities are definitely something you should also factor in when setting performance indicators. (I.e. If your staff is learning new skills, it should be reflected in their work.)
3. Create or update your performance evaluation form
Now that you’ve reviewed your company’s current evaluation system and defined appropriate KPIs, it’s time to create a performance evaluation form. To keep things organized, consider breaking down the form into the following sections:
- Job competency and skills (this section relies heavily on points set out in the original job description)
- Work quality and quantity (this is why defining KPIs is so important)
- Habits, attitude and other soft skills (e.g. how a person gets along with other teammates, team spirit, cleanliness of their space, presentation skills, etc.)
4. Encourage self-review and the Bottom-up Strategy
The bottom-up strategy essentially means that an employee has the opportunity to tell you what they’d like to accomplish and set their own goals. Based on the goals they’ve set, they can review themselves as part of the evaluation process. This method is a good way to keep everyone honest and to take stock in where a person is so far and where they want to go next in their careers.
This does not exclude the button-down strategy, where you as the employer set goals for your employees. In fact, the two can and should work hand-in-hand to map out a plan that everyone agrees on.
5. Give specific feedback
Vague feedback is a major demotivator and makes you as the reviewer sound like you’re full of hot air. If one of the aims of your evaluation is to truly help your employees improve, constructive feedback is key. The old, “We think you can try harder,” is a big no-no. If for some reason, you are unable to provide specific feedback, it’s better to postpone the evaluation, since ambiguity makes your employees uncertain and starts to create a rift in the employer-employee relationship.
Instead, be prepared to elaborate and give examples. If your feedback includes statements like, “We’d like you to take more initiative,” offer some examples on how you see that happening given the person’s specific position, job responsibilities and workload. Feedback should also be realistic and take into account the resources you do or don’t make available.
6. Set SMART Goals
Whether you use the bottom-up or bottom-down method to set goals, make sure they are SMART. You want goals to be specific and measurable so they can be clearly tracked and discussed during future evaluations. Naturally, all goals should be achievable and realistic, both so the company can gain tangible results and so your employees continue to grow and never get demoralized. And finally, all goals should have a timeline so you can get things done and move on to the next challenge.
7. Review timeline creation
This last point goes right on the heels of setting SMART goals. The ‘T’ is very important. In other words, you want to make sure that all due dates and deadlines are reasonable and will encourage each employee to do their best work. If they have to rush through a given task just to get it in on time, and ignore the quality, maybe you need to revisit the timelines.
All in all, the goal of evaluation systems should be to track your employees’ progress (ergo your company’s progress) and help them grow. Taking all the steps we’ve mentioned above takes time, but ensures you’ll be doing just that. Ideally, your company should be able to get to a point where both sides, employer and employee look forward to these checkups and regard them as milestones in your journey together. It might sound a bit far-fetched, but as a company who’s already gotten there, trust us, it’s not.
Let us know in the comments what best practices you implement at your company or as an employee what methods you’ve found to be the most helpful.