Evaluating Employees

Evaluating employees is possibly the most dreaded and unpleasant HR exercise in any organization, because of the reactions that are unleashed as a result of it. But it doesn’t have to be. It is obvious that any organization is ultimately only as good as its employees. So it is important that the evaluation process is transparent, objective and fair – ensuring all employees are happy with the process and the outcome.

Transparency, objectivity and therefore impartiality can only be maintained with sufficient information collected on the employee to be evaluated. Each and every facet of an employee’s performance must be taken into account. Invaluable performance information, regarding evaluating employees, must be gathered from all available sources - co-workers, other managers, clients and even subordinates can provide observations and opinions to validate a reviewer’s own assessment. Even new information and different viewpoints may come to light.

The easiest and best way for evaluating employees is by maintaining useful documentation or performance notes that help run through the performance milestones of an employee during the entire evaluation period. They refresh reviewer’s memories about performance levels attained before the evaluation process started. The notes kept on an employee’s performance and progress on their objective’s can document significant events, remarks and supplementary data about the employee; in fact, they can provide factual illustrations to back-up assessments.

Taking a long hard look at the previous employee evaluations may open up new vistas of looking into performance related issues. Areas that had previously required improvement and also the strong points are easier to point out. Although it may happen that the previously identified performance issues identified in the last report of evaluating employees may not exist now – either due to changed circumstances or improvement on the part of the employee – but these parameters allow a reviewer better insight into all the angles of an employee’s performance. It also serves to provide continuity to the evaluation process that increases its value to both the employee and the employer. Recording the outcomes of the previous evaluation during the employee’s current evaluation is extremely important as it leads to resolution of performance issues. In case the preceding employee evaluation was done by another manager it becomes even more imperative to pay attention to the performance issues raised in it and provide documentation as to the most important concerns for resolution and conclusion.

The other more common way of employee evaluation is to opt for a performance review of the employee by other managers, prominent clients, peers and subordinates of the concerned employee. Integrating such input into the evaluation helps the communication between all units of a business to remain smooth throughout the year. There are many ways to ensure that performance reviews from all sources are integrated into the employee evaluation. One of the easiest is to ask reviewers to complete evaluation forms and submit them by a fixed date to the reviewing manager. The employee can also personally interview others for feedback and record it for the manager. Reviewing managers can also incorporate inputs from their managers. A slightly round-about way would be the reviewing managers identifying typical selections of reviewers, sometimes the employees can be involved in the process. Apart from the above processes peer managers in any particular division can discuss the performance of all employees together. Although such feedback is usually kept anonymous, sometimes they might be quoted in proper context. In such cases the quoted person must be informed of the management decision, because otherwise employees might consider it unfair.

The most important part of any employee evaluation is the self review by the employee. This can be incorporated in many ways:

  • A blank evaluation form may be provided to the employee for a self-review, which after completion becomes the foundation for the review interview.
  • The review of the managers may be transferred as an RTF file to a network drive or attached to email for the employee to consider and edit according to their views.
  • The employee can do a self-review on a review form that is an edited version of the form the manager will use, which can either be brought to the review meeting or be reviewed online.
  • An adjacent comparison of the original review and the employee's self-review can be done. The comments of others can be transferred to the original review if required.

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