Putting the Value Back in Performance Evaluations

We have disposable contact lens, disposable cameras, disposable headphones on airplanes.

Lest we add disposable employee appraisals to the list, we might want to consider ways to put more “value” into performance evaluations so that they become more like a roadmap for development than a shortcut to nowhere.

Performance appraisals for all employees are often completed annually within a short timeframe, which doesn’t usually lend itself well to careful, honest, well-thought-out evaluations for each employee. The standardized forms may end up looking like cookie cutter documents with similar wording, strengths and weaknesses.

Other problems with the typical employee review system are:

  • Doing all the appraisals at once can create a tendency to compare and rank employees, which takes away the individual assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and can put employees on the defensive. It fosters an atmosphere of competitiveness rather than excellence.
  • Salary increases, bonuses, promotion opportunities are directly connected with the appraisal. Ideally, these matters are kept separate from performance appraisals.
  • Performance appraisals are too often used to document performance issues that should have been addressed throughout the year. Or, the results of performance appraisals are ignored the rest of the years.
  • Overworked supervisors may make hasty judgments based on recent performance, not the entire year’s.
  • What is measured is irrelevant to real work performance and does not differentiate true levels of quality. In other words, there may be lots of data, but no real information.
  • Self-evaluation is not valued or often-enough used in the performance appraisal process. An evaluation done without access to an employee’s self-evaluation will be missing important information.
  • The process is tedious and dull—just another project to get done—rather than creative, vital and truly informative.

Evaluations of value contain both elements of review and discovery. In these, managers can work with their people to set short-term and long-term objectives that benefit both company and employee.Education and training goals, as well as opportunities to work with a coach, also would be examined. Understanding employees’ professional goals enables managers to lead and guide them in more targeted and meaningful ways.

When we focus on developing the employees we supervise, we give the gift of recognition and support, a gift that will return in the form of enhanced performance and benefit to the company.

Here are a few recommendations on writing an evaluation of value:
Find a time and place to write without interruption. Hold in your mind as you proceed an image of the person you are evaluating.

  • Acknowledge and thank the individual for her or his contributions to the company.
  • Align the employee’s goals with the needs of the company.
  • Ensure that the employee has the necessary tools and support to achieve the objectives.
  • Include education and training opportunities, as well as new assignments or other activities, to further the employee’s career goals.