As uncomfortable for managers as for the employees being evaluated, job evaluations are considered a necessary evil -- so you may be surprised to learn that this necessity does not necessarily have to be, well, evil. If you're dreading your employees' evaluations as much or more as they are, it may be time to evaluate the effectiveness of the evaluation itself.
Form = Function
When you're ready to assess the effectiveness of your evaluation process, the first place to start is your evaluation form. If the form you're using to guide you through employee evaluations hasn't changed since you traded typewriters for computers, it's high time you took a look at it. Outdated job evaluation criteria set managers and employees alike up for failure, as they often address little of what is important to the position or the organization as a whole. Likewise overly involved or confusing evaluation documents -- if you're unsure how the form works, then you're likely stressing more over getting the I's dotted and T's crossed than you are with evaluating your employees.
The Perfect Fit
If you manage several employees who have the exact same job description and duties, lucky you -- you need only one evaluation document. If not, it's time to start tailoring your evaluation tool to your employees. An effective evaluation tool will address the individual aspects of each position, allowing the evaluator to assess each employee on equal footing. The employee's job description is the best place to find the information you need to gather the information you need (assuming you've got pertinent job descriptions, that is).
In identifying the top 50 problems with performance evaluations, Dr. John Sullivan writes that among the worst is the evaluation that focuses on the individual rather than the job. "While these factors may contribute to performance, they are not measures of actual output. If you want to assess the person, call it “person appraisal,”" writes Sullivan. "Performance is output quality, volume, dollar value, and responsiveness." Trade language that refers to "friendliness," "helpfulness," "enthusiasm" or other personality traits for standards that reflect how well the job is being performed -- "met sales expectations," "filed required paperwork in a timely fashion" or "attended continuing education events."
Past, Present, Future
The best performance evaluation is part of an ongoing process of improvement, both for employees and the organization. As such, an effective job evaluation tool should include sections that evaluate past performance, gauge where employees stand on continuing projects and set measurable, attainable goals for the future. Tying past, present and future together allows employees to understand both the purpose of the evaluation and how it helps to shape the future of the organization.
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