Performance appraisals, which provide employers with the opportunity to assess their employees’ contributions to the organization, are essential to the development of a powerful work team.
However, performance reviews are sometimes overlooked, usually due to the time involved and the difficulties of giving feedback to employees with whom you work closely.
But the benefits of evaluations outweigh these challenges. When done as part of a system that includes a standard evaluation form, standard performance measures, guidelines for providing feedback and disciplinary procedures, evaluations can impose acceptable performance limits, promote team recognition and effective communication and motivate individuals to do the best for themselves and the company.
The main objectives of a performance appraisal system are: to provide an equitable measure of an employee’s contribution to the workforce, to produce accurate assessment documentation to protect the employee and the employer and to achieve a high level of quality and quantity at work produced.
To create a performance evaluation system in practice, follow these five steps:
- Develop an evaluation form.
- Identify performance measures.
- Set guidelines for feedback.
- Create disciplinary and termination procedures.
- Set an evaluation schedule.
It is also advisable to check this system with an attorney to identify possible legal problems that can be corrected.
Develop an evaluation form
Performance reviews must be conducted in a fair, consistent and objective manner to protect the interests of its employees and to protect its practice from legal liability. One way to ensure consistency is to use a standard assessment form for each employee. The form you use should focus only on the essential areas of job performance. Limiting these areas of focus makes the assessment more meaningful and relevant and allows you and the employee to solve the most important problems.
For most jobs, the areas of job performance that should be included in a form are: knowledge and skills, quality of work, amount of work, work habits and attitudes. In each area, the evaluator must have a variety of descriptors to choose from (for example, “high”, “above average”, “average”, “below average”, “low”). Depending on the specificity of the descriptors, it is generally important that the evaluator also has space on the form to provide the reasoning behind their classification.
Identify performance measures
Standard performance measures, which allow you to objectively assess an employee’s job performance, can reduce the amount of time and stress involved in completing the form. While developing these measures can be one of the most time-consuming parts of creating a performance appraisal system, it is also one of the most powerful.
To start developing standard performance measures in practice, review job descriptions for each position and select the main job components that can be specifically measured. Then, work with employees in each position to gather quantitative data, examine historical volume patterns, and determine qualitative measures that reflect the mission and objectives of the practice.
Depending on the size of your practice and how many positions need standard performance measures, it is a good idea to select a committee to develop them. Then, with the help of employees in each position, supervisors must maintain them. It is important to keep job descriptions and standard performance measures as current as possible. Otherwise, when an employee does not conform to the standards you have set, you cannot be sure if he has a performance problem or if his expectations regarding the position have become unrealistic based on the volume increase or a change in performance circumstances.
Set guidelines for feedback
Feedback is the goal of performance reviews. Therefore, before implementing your performance appraisal system, make sure that everyone who does the appraisals knows what kind of feedback to give, how to give it and how to get it from the employee in return.
Describe expectations for improvement. When you address areas where improvement is needed, describe your expectations for improvement and how you intend to help the employee meet them. Define the limits by telling the employee what is acceptable and what will not be tolerated, and thus establish a plan to monitor performance and reevaluate the employee.
Encourage employee feedback. After discussing the results of the assessment with the employee, encourage them to provide non-defensive feedback. Ask if he or she agrees with your assessment and / or invite suggestions for improvement.
Create disciplinary and termination procedures
In some cases, even after a thorough performance review and discussion of expected improvements, an employee will continue to perform poorly. You need to be prepared to deal with this situation by adopting well-defined and written disciplinary and termination procedures. These procedures should describe the actions that will be taken when performance deteriorates – a verbal warning, a written warning, if there is no improvement or recurrence and termination, if the situation is not resolved.
Verbal warning: This must be given in particular, with the discipline’s behavior or reason clearly stated. After the verbal warning, allow the employee to respond, but keep the exchange brief.
Written notice: The way you handle written notice plays a critical role in the success of your disciplinary and termination procedures. A standard written notice form should include the following:
- A description of the behavior or problem that includes objective findings;
- Measurable actions and expected employee changes;
- The support that the employer will provide for improvement;
- A description of what will happen (for example, unpaid time off or termination) and when (for example, after another occurrence or two) if the notice is not heeded;
- The signature of the employee and appraiser and the date of the notice.
Termination: Explain the reason for termination, but do so briefly and objectively to avoid getting into a discussion that puts you in a defensive position. Validate the employee as a person, perhaps giving a positive inclination to the employee’s potential in the job market. Finally, ask if the employee has any questions and help him recover all his belongings and leave them with the greatest possible dignity. If you handle termination well, you are less likely to have an employee who wants to “take revenge” by speaking ill of the community or seeking legal revenge.
Set an evaluation schedule
Once you’ve created your performance appraisal system – the appraisal form, performance measures, feedback guidelines and disciplinary procedures – you only need to decide when to conduct performance appraisals.
There are companies that do all employee evaluations at the same time of the year, while others perform them within 30 days after each employee’s employment anniversary (the latter may work better, as it distributes the work of the evaluations to the employer throughout the year ).
However, if you decide to schedule the evaluations, make sure that each evaluator consistently meets the deadline. Ignoring employee overdue assessments will make them feel undervalued and may undermine morale and performance.
A performance appraisal system must be an essential component of its structure. And having a management model can facilitate your measurement process.
There are several models available on the internet, with functions based on the needs of each organization.
One is the 9 Box Grid Talent Management Template, designed to help assess an employee’s current and potential level of contribution to the organization. Use this template to communicate your team’s accomplishments and document the areas that need improvement.
This way, you simplify employee assessments and back up your management decisions with good data.
Remember: when a model is implemented effectively, it guarantees fairness and responsibility, promotes growth and development and encourages a sense of pride in your employees’ contributions to your company.