L&D Strategies

Here’s How to Get Employee Evaluation Right

Max Benz
8 min

Here’s How to Get Employee Evaluation Right

Employee evaluations are an imperative part of running your business and keeping good employees, while also helping grow those who could be a great success. Especially for early entrepreneurs and companies in a growth cycle, it’s important to use employee evaluations to your benefit in various ways – but you need to use them in ways that matter and provide benefits.

What Is an Employee Evaluation?

An employee evaluation is an overview, review, and assessment of a worker’s job performance and improvement in certain areas. Most companies have an engrained employee evaluation system where employees are on a regular schedule – sometimes once a year (annual review), sometimes twice.

These assessments are often used in conjunction with raises, renewals, or some sort of corrective action. Sometimes, they will happen after a big project or because of a specific event in the workplace.

Most often, however, they are time-based. This helps to spread out employee evaluations, so you aren’t doing them all at the same time. For example, someone who is hired in January will have another employee evaluation in January of the next year. This helps to get a full picture of how someone works and makes the process manageable. As you will see, there is quite a bit to be done within an employee evaluation.

One thing you do need to do is “spread the love,” so to speak, if you are going to use evaluations to determine raises. Studies have shown that people who get evaluations at the end of the year may receive raises that are higher than their coworkers because managers have saved money throughout the year. Other managers will spend all their money upfront and then not have enough left at the end.

How to Conduct an Employee Performance Evaluation

Employee evaluations are challenging, but you can use them to your advantage if you know how to do so. Knowing how to conduct an employee evaluation is your first step.

1Stay Prepared All Year

The first step to be prepared for your evaluation. Keep notes all year long and stay organized. If you walk into the meeting with nothing prepared, you are just wasting time. Fill out your documents and keep detailed notes, so you won’t miss anything.

One way you can stay on top of your employee evaluations is to have your employees fill out text surveys and tests online to gauge their interests, performance, and knowledge on specific subjects. You can use this information to fill out your report before entering the meeting.

Additionally, you can leverage employee survey tools to collect meaningful information from employees. These tools allow you to get surveys on specific topics like- company-wide, leadership-only, or team-specific surveys. It’ll allow you to track changes in employee engagement levels over time and get the employee Net Promoter Score.

2Always Start with The Positives

You want to start the session out with the positives. Tell your employee what they’ve done right and what has impressed you. Keep your remarks clear and concise, but don’t be afraid of praise. Give solid examples of the good things that your employee does and even provide tools for how they can continue doing it.

3Use Online Tests & Employee Evaluations

Just as it is important to understand your customers, it’s equally critical to understand your employees. One of the best things you can do is use online tests and evaluations to help gauge where your employees are and how much they understand their jobs. If possible, use these as a way to fill out and broaden the scope of your evaluations.

You can even sign them up for tests and courses (using an online course platform such as Learnworlds) that will help them to perform better at work.

Use these as enrichment activities for times when work is slow or when they need some additional training. There are plenty of opportunities out there for your employees to get better and provide you with some insight, if you just take the time to look for them.

For example, if you figure out that a new member of your marketing team isn’t experienced in using your product, enable him to use your product by providing a tutorial and instructions to remove this roadblock.

4Talk About Areas that Need Improvement

Next, talk about where your employee has gone wrong. Make sure that you have legitimate examples if you are going to give some negative feedback. Then, make sure that you outline a plan for how the employee can improve. You will need to do some of the heavy lifting to help your employee improve.

For example, you can provide tools to improve their communication skills or suggestions for getting to work on time.

5Ask Your Employee About What They Want to Do

Keeping your employee morale up is important – so make sure you know what they want to learn. Even if you can’t teach your employees something or move them into a role right away, you can always keep that information in the back of your mind.

6Ask for Feedback

Before your session ends, you should ask for feedback on how you are doing as well. It can be humbling to get that feedback, but you need it. This will help your employee to tell you what they need to be successful. For example, your employee may convey they’re overworked and under-rested or you could figure out that being productive is a challenge for your employee. In this case, you could provide him with suitable productivity tips and apps.

7Provide Your Employee with A Copy of Their Evaluation Form

Once you’ve filled out everything from the employee evaluation, be sure to give them a copy. This will help them to see what needs to be done in the upcoming quarter or year. Of course, it will also help you if there is ever a time when you need to talk to them about their performance – they cannot say that they didn’t know about something in particular when you have provided documentation.

So, let’s break down your employees into three different groups:

The Good

The good worker is someone who goes above and beyond at work. He or she spends extra time to ensure that the work they do is correct, on time, and done to the standards you’ve set. This is a person who, when they make mistakes, learns from them and doesn’t make those same mistakes again.

Your employee evaluation process of this person should focus on what she does right – don’t nitpick and look for what she does wrong. Tell her you appreciate her and love the work she’s doing. During this time, focus on what she says about how you could improve what you are doing. For example, maybe she wants to take over the social media posting, and you do it but don’t like it – so you can shift it over to her.

The Bad

Let’s say you have an employee who is mediocre but nothing great. She does the work she’s supposed to do but doesn’t go above and beyond the call of duty. Maybe she makes mistakes a few times until she learns from them – or maybe she tries to work too quickly and produces sloppy work.

During this evaluation, you should focus on what areas of improvement and how that could lead to a better future for her. Tell her you think she has potential and ask her to do the work to get there – for example, she can work on her decision making skills.

The Ugly

Not all employees are right for your company. Maybe you have some lazy employees, but you still see some positive in them. Say someone is really great in a specific area but doesn’t show up on time and has a bad attitude. The core skills are what is important.

Try to focus your employee evaluation on what can be improved and what value this person brings – but make sure they understand what mistakes they are making and that you do notice those mistakes.

If you still aren’t sure about your employee and you want to learn more, there are some great questions you can ask to dig a bit deeper and find out more. If you aren’t a good communicator, this can be a problem. Here are some good examples of questions you can employ to unearth an employee’s potential:

When you are doing an employee evaluation for remote work, it can feel a bit distanced or disconnected. However, there are some things you can do to help make it work:

1Use video

While there is a temptation to use a phone call for your employee evaluation, it helps when you can read body language. There are plenty of video interviewing tools from which you can choose. However, I highly recommend testing any tool before setting up calls with employees to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

2Send copies of the evaluation

Since you cannot hand a copy of the evaluation over to the person, send over the evaluation. You may even want to create a document that you can share.

3Ask to record the meeting.

If you want to be present in your evaluation, ask to record it. This will help you to get more value out of your time without taking you out of the moment.

4Don’t plan a meeting right after it.

Your employee evaluation may take 10 minutes, or it may take an hour. You do not want to cut off your employee. Try not to have a hard stopping time, so your employee doesn’t feel slighted.

5Set clear goals and KPIs.

With remote work, in particular, you want to set goals with your evaluation. This will allow you to reason through them much better than you will be able to in email.

Still not sure what you want to do for your employee evaluation? Here are three examples:

Employee Evaluation FOrm – HR360

Source: HR360

This form is easy to understand and perfect if you have many employees. Everything is clear cut and offers good guidelines. It also allocates space for your own comments to help explain any criticisms or offer praise.

Annual Employee’s Performance Review – Smartsheet

Source: Smartsheet

If you want to have more space to give details and really make the most of your evaluation, this one has plenty of room and is structured appropriately.

Employee Performance Review – Helpjuice

Source: HelpJuice

This template is a great combination of the other two – you get the ease of use, but there is even more room for comments, constructive criticism, and praise.

Overall, think of employee evaluations as unique opportunities to boost your company to new levels by improving your company culture. Take the time to be detailed and optimistic for future growth, both for your individual employees and your company!
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Max Benz
Max Benz

Max Benz is head of content at Filestage (https://filestage.io) and thinks that solid employee evaluation is crucial for every company. On the side, he's running a German remote job board.