The Good Manager’s Guide: Conducting an Employee Evaluation

Employee evaluations (or staff appraisals) should be an enlightening experience for both parties involved. These reviews should be in no way intimidating for either you or your employee. However, for a lot of people the process has become exactly that. The reasons for these discouraging occurrences can range from when the evaluation takes place to how the reviewer handles the evaluation process. Here’s a guide to help you create a positive employee evaluation procedure in your workplace.

Deciding When to Conduct Employee Reviews

The first thing required for a successful employee evaluation program is a solid review schedule. You need to know when the evaluations will take place and how you plan on notifying your employees of their upcoming performance reviews. It is important to decide how many times per year you want to do employee reviews. While some companies only hold one single evaluation per year, other companies will conduct more informal (or “mini”) reviews once or twice before that yearly review is conducted. This practice can be beneficial to all involved — it cuts down on the time that the formal review takes. Periodic “mini-reviews” also allow the employees time to improve on weaker areas of work before the dreaded formal evaluation takes place.

Employee “mini-reviews” can also give managers an opportunity to get to know their employees better. This is a way in which to show employees that they are valued and taken seriously. As such, you shouldn’t think of these reviews as simply a place in which to negotiate salaries.

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Things like working conditions, future opportunities and any problems that either party has should also be discussed at this time.

Setting Aside Time for Employee Evaluations

You should set aside a specific time when the review will be held in order to get the most out of the evaluation.  This practice gives your employee adequate time to prepare themselves; the evaluation is not sprung on them suddenly and it allows them the time required to adequately prepare for it. You will find that proper preparation cannot happen if you send your employee an email on Monday informing him that this is the week of his or her performance evaluation. Instead, make sure that you have a quiet private place and at least an hour’s worth of time set aside to perform the evaluation.

Performing an Effective Employee Evaluation

The list of questions that are involved in an employee evaluation do not need to be so involved that the review seems impersonal and institutional. Also, you do not need to ask the employee ‘everything under sun.” You cannot expect to be able to cover everything in one hour.

In addition, keep in mind that if you spend too much time on one thing you could easily lead the evaluation in the wrong direction, spending more time to accomplish the entire process than you originally intended and planned for.

Some of the other things that you may want to keep in mind during the evaluation include:

  • Your employee needs to have been given a job description beforehand. That way they know what the evaluation is based on.
  • Your employee should have a blank copy of the evaluation prior to the review as well. Then they can fill in how they would rate themselves. (You may actually find that they will be harder on themselves than you.)
  • There should be certain goals outlined for this evaluation. Things such as improving performance, rewarding good performance and establishing new expectations are common — and important — areas to cover.
  • Make sure that you don’t do all of the talking. You’ll want to ask questions and give your employee time to share their feelings and tell you what their needs are.
  • Employees should be permitted to write an alternate point of view in their file if there is something that you disagree about. While it may not be binding, it is an important step in moving forward in your relationship.
  • Try to put your employee at ease. If they are overly anxious, they will be unable to hear what you are trying to tell them.
  • Have any metrics or performance data on hand to back up what your evaluation states. This adds hard evidence to the evaluation process.
  • Don’t just focus on those areas that need improvement. Your employee also needs to hear praise, so make sure to spend just as much time telling them what they have done well over the time period.

How to Write the Employee Evaluation

As a manager, you should be taking notes on all of the employees that you are responsible for evaluating on an ongoing basis. Fortunately, there are a lot of different software packages available for this purpose. Even if you only need a template to help you along, these software packages will work well for you.

Remember that your goal is to assess the way in which your employee is performing in relation to their job description and requirements.  You will want to be really strict here in order to motivate your employee to perform even better.

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As mentioned, while you write the employee evaluation your employee should also be writing an honest self-appraisal. This is something that you will want to look over before finalizing your evaluation. It will give you some important information to consider before sharing your review with your employee.

The evaluation itself should also provide you with opportunities in which to coach the employee.  Make sure that all of this is documented in order to ensure everybody’s understanding of what needs to be improved and areas in which the employee is excelling. You will want to document your employees’ reaction to the entire process.

A Final Word

First of all, you must make sure that employee reviews are done in a timely manner. This is important because whenever these reviews are constantly late, it can be very frustrating for the employee. So, if a review is due on a specific date, make sure that you get it done on that date and at the scheduled time. While your employees understand that you are busy, an untimely review simply suggests a lack of respect for them.

It is also important to remember that the evaluation is about your employee, not yourself. Also keep in mind that an honest evaluation only includes job performance-based issues and achievements, though you may have opinions regarding the employee’s home life and personal time. Don’t let the latter influence the former.

Finally, it is important to keep the evaluation relaxed and comfortable; nobody should feel intimidated or abused. Reviews should be beneficial to everyone, which is why they are so important. This is especially true if you concern yourself with building a good working relationship with your employees. The evaluation process is just another tool to improve the company’s employee development program — and a good manager knows how to use this tool effectively.


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Joshua Riddle from and is a freelance web developer and contributing author. His writing specializes in time management, productivity strategies, technology based tutorials, and work-flow. His development specialties are Web 2.0 style interactive PHP / MySQL database applications.


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