Job performance evaluation is entering a new era in the American market. Tech giants and Fortune 500 companies like Google and General Electric are doing away with archaic ways of evaluating employees. And they’re not alone! Adobe, Eli Lilly, Cargill and around one-third of other U.S. companies are fast joining the league. This growing focus on the way companies evaluate employees is a result of the realization that traditional evaluation processes are time-consuming, low in collaboration, and in the run-down to 2018, will fail to retain employees, given the kind of support and mentoring the new age American workforce demands. However, before you completely revolutionize your evaluation methodology, here are five quick strategies that you can seamlessly integrate with your existing landscape and prepare yourself for challenges of the coming year.
1. Plan the evaluation backward
There’s a reason why we’ve mentioned this one first. No matter what strategies you choose, if your employee performance does not improve, the strategies are no good. If you wait for that “one fine day” to arrive, wherein you brief your employees on what they’ve done well and what they haven’t, the damage may have already been done. Besides, you may leave your employees baffled, as all this while, they thought they were doing their job right. Since the plan isn’t to cry over spilled milk, you’ve got to plan backward. You should be clear from the outset of both – the goals of your employees and your expectations from them. This strategy helps ensure satisfied employees as well as happy managers.
2. Pace out the job performance evaluation
Let’s face it – job performance evaluations are stressful. And this is true for the evaluator as well as the evaluatee. Holistic evaluation requires a 360° feedback, which means feedback not just from the direct manager but also from colleagues and the employee himself. Now that can be a lot of information for an individual to acknowledge in a face-to-face discussion over the span of a few hours. Let’s not forget that we’re trying to fit a yearlong performance into a couple of hours. So here’s what we can do – pace out the process of evaluation. Allow the employee to pen down his achievements in more frequent intervals. Ask his colleagues to write their experiences of working with him regularly or at the end of every project. And of course, you, as the recruiter or manager, will prepare a report on this employee’s performance as well. Throughout the year, let the employee have access to a real-time summary of this feedback. Give him time to enhance some of his metrics. A few days before the appraisal conversation, hand down a copy of the feedback that sums up the employee’s performance against all metrics discussed above. Let him spend some time reading his assessment by himself. This strategy helps employees manage their emotions better and face the evaluation conversation with a more positive mindset.
3. Choose your words wisely
Don’t set a prototype for the performance evaluation conversations. Some sweet-talk followed by some criticism and then some compliments again. While that may have been the trend so far, 2018 would call for some real innovation in corporate idiosyncrasies. The traditional approach of giving feedback is (a) monotonous and (b) lacks genuine effort. Your employees may stop taking your word seriously, both on compliments and criticisms if you try and sugar coat everything. Besides, if you follow the same tone with your high performing and low performing staff members, your approach may backfire. While the hardworking ones may lose interest, the careless ones may continue being unproductive thinking they’re doing just fine. Both these scenarios will prove detrimental to workforce improvement and consequently business output. So don’t think twice before appreciating your competent employees and do not hesitate in demanding improvement from those who haven’t fared well.
4. Give feedback that’s actionable and insightful
Simply telling an employee that they’re doing great or that they’re not meeting expectations will fetch your organization nothing. Substantiate your feedback with examples. Tell them what exactly made you feel they’re doing great, say a project they executed or the way they handled some client. Likewise, share with them what made you say they’re not meeting expectations, for example, a deadline they missed or how they’ve been of little help to their colleagues. And don’t just stop there, go a step ahead and tell them what they can do next. Saying things like “You’re doing good” or “ You need to work harder” mean nothing. More insightful and actionable feedback would sound like, “ You’re a good team player. The way you worked on the ABC project just shows that…” or “ You should be more organized. Maybe you could start your days with a to-do list.”
5. Put the ball in the employee’s court
You’re not dealing with kids, right? You’re dealing with mature adults who understand that it’s a fair give-and-take that works in any business. As employees, they’d expect a higher salary and more perks. But they need to earn all this for themselves, isn’t it? You must, therefore, relate the profitability of the company to their performance. The more value they add to the company, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, the more they can expect in return. While using this strategy, ask your employee to explain how they think they’re contributing to the organization’s growth. Put the ball in their court. Let them introspect and come up with answers, while you could always validate their claims with your evaluation of their performance. The strategy adds fairness to the evaluation process and leaves your employee more satisfied with the appraisal.
With the above strategies in place, you can expect measurable changes in the performance of your staff members. However, performance evaluation comes much later. You don’t start with evaluation; you start with recruitment! Any measure you adopt for advancing the growth of your corporation requires a receptive and cooperative workforce. If your employees do not comply with or participate in your initiatives, the best of your strategies are futile. So remember, intelligent recruitment is the first step always!