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Best Practices: Evaluating Performance
How to Appraise, Promote, and Fire
One-On-One Performance Management
With today's shifting workforce, a manager's responsibility for evaluating employees is all the more challenging and complex. In the coming years, as more and more baby boomers retire, experienced workers will be at a premium as they become increasingly hard to find.
Most companies will hire younger employees with fewer years on the job—individuals who need well-defined goals, on-the-job training, and continual supervision.
What should managers look for when they evaluate the performance of these employees? How should they evaluate an individual employee's initiative, work quality, and potential for advancement? How should managers document employee evaluations? How often should they review employee performance? How do managers promote an employee—or fire one?
There are no shortcuts to employee evaluation, but there are processes, strategies, and techniques that help managers evaluate employees more effectively. This book addresses the fundamentals of employee evaluation: hiring, day-to-day performance management, reviews, and what to do about performance problems.
Why Performance Management Matters
Traditionally, evaluating performance has meant employee appraisal, or "the performance review." Today, however, many organizations are moving beyond simply reviewing employee performance toward a more comprehensive performance-management process.
Performance management is a process-oriented approach to evaluating and supporting employees. Ideally, performancemanagement takes place from the moment the employee is hired to fill a position at a company to the moment the individual leaves the organization. If a company and its management adopt this broad view, managers are in a much better position to help develop each employee's potential, and employees feel better about their positions and the company they work for.
Performance management helps managers develop the staff they have and keep them motivated; raise the standards of quality and promote productivity; and keep employees in tune with corporate goals.
At the heart of performance management is the process of employee evaluation. Ideally, managers periodically evaluate employees informally throughout the year; formal evaluations typically are done on a quarterly or annual basis.
In fact, the annual performance appraisal has stirred up controversy in management circles. Although the performance appraisal is intended to help employees improve their performance, succeed at their jobs, and then potentially be promoted, it often ends up being used merely as an annual review—a method of handing out rewards and punishments. This is why current opinion favors using the performance appraisal as just one element of the broader performance-management process, which encompasses the employee's entire tenure at the company from hire onward.
Constructive performance evaluations can yield significant benefits. In fact, they may be the employee's only opportunity to spend individual time with a supervisor. The more often they occur, the better the communication will be between manager and employee, which improves morale. When supervisors make time for frequent evaluations, several key benefits can result:
Job satisfaction. Job satisfaction tends to increase after a review, because the employee is getting personal attention from the manager and is involved in the evaluation process.
Improved performance. If the manager delivers feedback in a positive way and both employee and manager agree to specific goals, a significant improvement in performance can result.
Development. Performance evaluations offer excellent opportunities for managers and staff to agree on how workers' abilities can be developed—whether through formal or on-the-job training or skills-development programs.
Rewards and recognition. When performance evaluations are linked with rewards and recognition, and are used as the basis for salary increases and bonuses, they become even more powerful motivators.
Organizational improvement. Performance evaluations can provide a valuable assessment of how certain types of people perform in specific jobs. Managers can use this information to improve job descriptions and to recruit the person best suited for a position.
Start by Hiring the Right People
The first step in performance management is hiring the right person for the right job. All too often, a manager is forced to hire under pressure. When an employee leaves a position, or when a new job opens up, the manager scrambles to fill the opening as soon as possible. In the heat of the moment, the manager might settle for a conveniently available job candidate instead of waiting for the best-qualified one.
While it may be time consuming, you should thoroughly screen all viable candidates during the hiring process. Match the candidate's skill set to the position. Consider relevant experience and strong references, but also be sure the individual will fit well within your organization. You are actually evaluating the potential of the candidate to be successful at the job. This is just as important as employee evaluation.
What is the best way to get the right person for the job? Write the best job description possible.
The Job Description as a Performance Management Tool
A good job description is both a hiring blueprint and a performance management tool.
A job description should be written in concise, easy-to-understand language. It should include enough detail to convey specific job responsibilities, but be flexible enough to allow for employee growth.
Include the title of the job, a summary of the position, the employee's manager or supervisor, a list of specific responsibilities, including supervisory duties if any, and specific qualifications for the position, such as education, experience, and character traits.
Include a statement covering your company's expectation of how employees should relate to coworkers and customers and how employee performance will be evaluated.
It is also a good idea to add information about the company's working hours, pay range, and benefits.
The well-written, comprehensive job description outlines the expectations for the job and also sets a standard for performance. If the job description clearly states job requirements—skills, initiative, and interactions with coworkers and other departments—it not only ensures that candidates will be qualified, it also becomes the manager's guide for managing and evaluating employee performance. You should be able to use the responsibilities section of a good job description as a checklist during periodic employee performance evaluations.Best Practices: Evaluating Performance
How to Appraise, Promote, and Fire. Copyright © by Barry Silverstein. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.