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Performance evaluations. Do you and your employees find them as much fun as oral surgery?

Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Although the annual performance evaluation process is often dreaded by employers and feared by employees, it actually provides an excellent opportunity to strengthen your company.

A Teaching and Learning Tool

For smart employers performance evaluations are both a teaching and learning tool. The process provides the perfect opportunity to reinforce the goals, values and mission of your company. After all, the quality of your staff determines your success. And success doesn’t just happen, you have to cultivate it by developing and training your staff.

Create an Effective Process

When you create your evaluation format, be sure to tell employees what you want them to know about the company as well as their performance. How do you do this?

  • Set the tone ­ Start with a statement about the company’s goals and values.
  • Purpose of the evaluation ­ Next state the purpose of the evaluation process. Discuss concepts like teamwork, growth and what you expect from a successful employee.
  • Divide the form into sections - In one section, define the key points of an individual’s job. In another, address general skills like appearance, taking the initiative and punctuality.
  • Allow Self-Evaluation ­ Give one copy of the form to the employee to evaluate his/her performance. You fill out the form separately. When you meet, compare notes. This process offers the ideal format to discuss issues with employees. You can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, everything from skill sets to attitude.
Standardizing the evaluation process helped one of my clients talk to her employees about issues she had been avoiding. Strengthened by a defined format, she was able to discuss big and little issues in a comfortable, relaxed manner.

Create a Win/Win

But that’s not all your company can achieve from performance evaluations. This process also provides an opportunity to discover new information about your staff. What are their goals and ambitions? How committed are they to the company? What skills do they possess that you didn’t know about?

This is where good listening skills come in. First you have to ask the right questions, and then you have to listen to the answers. You’ll discover some useful information about your staff and this knowledge will help you strengthen your company.

One of my clients was looking for a key employee to serve as second-in-command. By asking the right questions during the performance evaluation and listening to the answers, he discovered that one of his employees was highly motivated. He trained and promoted the employee. After the training was complete the employer became ill. Fortunately, the employee was able to manage the company until the employer regained his health.

Rather than dreading the performance evaluation process use it as an opportunity to communicate with your employees, to strengthen their skills, and to learn what other contributions they can make to the company. Most importantly, enjoy the process.

Too Much Work?

If you determine that you don’t want to devote the time necessary to put together an effective performance appraisal, rather than abandoning the process, seek outside help. A smart employer knows when to use his or her valuable time on a project and when to delegate. An independent consultant provides a new perspective on your company, and can help you figure out how to create a performance evaluation that works best for you and your company.

© 2003 Louise Levy, Levy Associates.

LEVYASSOCIATES  New Hope, PA  215 794-4363