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Employee Evaluation Process: The 8 Great Dos and Don’ts

Parvathi Vijayamohan

14 October 2021

6 min read

Employee evaluation – you have either heard of it, or been through it at some point. But now you’re a manager, and it’s your turn to do an employee assessment.

Giving feedback is a nerve-wracking process for many of us (it definitely is for me). This is doubly so for new managers and supervisors.

So here are eight dos and dont’s (strictly from an employee’s POV) to help you sail through it smoothly, and end the process on a positive note.

Dos of employee evaluation

#1. Inform your teams

Pay raises, promotions, training, role changes – these decisions are made based on employee evaluations. So it is only fair to inform your teams at least a month in advance about the upcoming appraisal. This will give all of your employees time to mentally prepare, which makes for a more accurate and thorough review.

#2. Keep a standard (yet customizable) employee evaluation template

This form template should include general evaluation criteria for all employees. But it should also be customized for the specific criteria for different roles. For example, a customer executive, job-wise, would have different evaluation criteria from those of a product analyst.

#3. Create a form

Nobody likes paperwork, so why not just give feedback straight from the gut? Well, you can, but employee evaluation forms have a major benefit – you can formally document our performance and get us to sign off on the process. An employee evaluation form should include:

  • The date of the evaluation
  • A simple-to-use rating system
  • Scoring for specified skills
  • Space for comments
  • Signature boxes for the reviewer and employee

#4. Seek feedback from co-workers

Because they work together on a day-to-day basis, a team member’s feedback about an employee can be more insightful than a manager’s feedback. But as a co-worker, it is hard to open up about teammates. So one way to get around this is by using 360-degree feedback to gather inputs anonymously.

Related: What is 360 degree feedback?

#5. Enable employees to do self-assessments

By their very nature, self-assessments are subjective. But as a manager, they will help you view performance from the employee’s perspective, and spot unaddressed gaps in our knowledge. It also gives us time to reflect on our mistakes and achievements.

#6. Prep for the meeting

360 degree feedback has plenty of upsides if implemented correctly. However, it can also bring out all types of feedback – including negative or incomplete feedback from inexperienced reviewers. It’s up to you as the manager to prep the feedback ahead of time.

  1. Categorize the feedback into groups
  2. Look for themes and common features between responses.
  3. Select the feedback you think will be the most constructive for the employee.
  4. Avoid the “sandwich approach” aka placing good feedback in between two bad ones. If you have to give negative feedback, get to the point (tactfully).

#7. Check your biases

If you’ve received employee evaluations, you’ve probably been on the receiving end of at least one of these blunders.

  • Positive leniency: “I don’t want to be mean so I give everyone good ratings.”
  • Negative leniency: “I give everyone low ratings because I have high standards.”
  • The halo effect: “I like this guy so I’ll give him good ratings all across.”
  • Recency bias: “What have you done lately?”
  • Dispositional bias: “You want my rating? Hold on a second, let me just check with your manager.”

There are a lot more where those came from, and there’s a possibility that you might have a few of them. To avoid filtering every feedback through these biases, make sure to do a quick mental check.

#8. Speed up the employee evaluation process

Many companies sanction annual reviews, but you don’t want to wait till then. After all, why should we wait a whole year to know how we’re doing?

So have a formal employee evaluation at least once a year as well as real-time feedback about day-to-day performance. Ongoing, regular feedback will tell us what we’re doing well and where we need to improve, so we have time to make changes before the big review.

Everyone should always know where they stand, and where they stand with you, and any feedback you have for them. - Jack Welch, Straight from the Gut

Don’ts of employee evaluation

#1. Postpone the employee evaluation

There’s nothing more demoralizing for an employee than being told we are going to have yearly evaluations – and then seeing it pushed to the next month and next and the next. Yet fifteen months later….still no evaluation. It’s tempting to put it off when there are more urgent priorities – but do you really want to send the message that your employees aren’t a top priority?

#2. Spring any surprises

Being evaluated is stressful, and everyone wants to make a good impression. So we suggest at least a month’s run-up between sharing the evaluation survey and the review meeting. This way, the staff has enough time to fill out the survey, reviewers can analyze the data, and the employees can mentally prepare as well.

#3. Dwell only on the negative

As it turns out, bad feedback is better than no feedback at all. However, bad feedback has a much higher emotional impact. One way to soften the blow is through a healthy dialogue – one where you and the employee discuss what went wrong and how the issue can be solved going forward.

Also while giving critical feedback, never mention who said what. This helps avoid any conflicts later, and gives a safe space for people to provide feedback.

#4. Use second or third-hand information

Don’t use information that is impossible to verify, else the employee could perceive the evaluation as biased. One way for managers to avoid this is to document each employee’s performance throughout the year. This performance log can be a paper file, digital file, project management tool, or even a notebook. When the employee does something out of the ordinary – good or bad – that too should be included in the log.

#5. Dictate the conversation

Don’t let the employee evaluation become a one-sided conversation. Leave the floor open for questions, comments, or updates about problems they’re facing. This is also a good chance to learn how they view their job, and what they think could be improved.

There are ways to encourage feedback from even your most introverted employees. You just need to keep an open mind.

#6. Focus only on the recent

Most of us, including managers, tend to focus only on recent actions (which are easier to remember). But this can create a biased evaluation process that doesn’t consider everything an employee has achieved. For example, what if an employee is performing poorly due to depression, but was crushing it until then? Hence, you need to have a two way conversation as mentioned above.

#7. Combine the employee review and salary review

Compensation is a touchy subject, and it can create a lot of tension between you and the employees. Not the best frame of mind to conduct an objective review! So focus only on performance in the employee evaluation, and keep the topic of pay for a separate conversation.

#8. Fail to track performance

An employee evaluation is pointless if you don’t track progress. Employee experience management tools like SurveySparrow help with benchmarking performance and keeping a single repository for all reviews. They can auto-generate the analytics so you can easily have the monthly, quarterly and yearly numbers in place before each review meeting.

How do you conclude an employee evaluation?

With a handshake, a smile and words of encouragement. This will motivate the employee to work better. Here are some employee evaluation comments that you can use to praise your employee at the end of a meeting.

1) Attendance:

  • “You always come in on time and get the work done within schedule.”
  • “She meets all company standards for attendance and punctuality.”
  • “You schedule your time off in advance and can be relied upon for completing your tasks on time.”

2) Problem solving:

  • “She does her research before finding a solution to a problem.”
  • “He can always think of a new angle to the problem.”
  • “We can always rely on you to give your full attention to a problem when it arises.”

3) Leadership:

  • “Thanks for helping your recruits learn better and for brutally honest constructive feedback.”
  • “She takes complete ownership from day zero.”
  • “You are fair and treat every employee in your team equally and respectfully.”

4) Teamwork

  • “Thank you for handling the query and communications like a pro.”
  • “Continue being a go-getter, reliable and solution driven. Keep up the good work.”
  • “Having a supportive colleague is what every employee desires in the workplace. Thanks for being there for the team.”

5) Work Ethic

  • “I wonder how you are managing your daily tasks and at the same time finding extra time to plan and share your knowledge with the newcomers. We’re grateful for all the guidance that you guys are giving.”
  • “Kudos for having open ears to feedback, upskilling on a periodic basis and for the constant performance improvements. Keep it up and keep tweaking!”

Employee evaluation examples

Don’t have the time or resources to create a form from scratch? Here is an employee evaluation template to get you started.

Employee 360 degree feedback

You can find more examples in our template gallery. Feel free to look around!

Finishing up

That’s all folks! To round up: every employee evaluation is a learning experience, and your employees often turn out to be the best teachers. Following a process will help you get past your initial fears. What’s more, the ability to crowdsource feedback using 360 software will enable you to build an effective employee evaluation process.

Create a free account and see how SurveySparrow can help make employee evaluation easier and more effective.

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

Fledgling growth marketer. Curious about all things SaaS. Aunty to a naughty beagle.

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