How to Conduct a Successful Employee Evaluation

by Neil Kokemuller

Conducting employee evaluations is a common and important function for a manager. An employee performance appraisal is an opportunity to offer feedback on strengths and weaknesses, to help an employee set goals, and to motivate him to better performance going forward. Understanding a few key points can significantly enhance the value of your appraisals.

Stick to the Schedule

One knock on performance evaluations is that they can be too formal. However, when you schedule a formal review with an employee, you need to stick to the appointment. One or more reschedules can send the message that the appraisal is not as important as other matters. This is in contrast to the primary purpose of an evaluation, which is to motivate an employee toward optimal performance. Abiding by the schedule and committing to the meeting shows that you value the employee and his work.

Offer Clear Feedback

An employee can only improve from an evaluation if your feedback is clear and specific. General affirmation of a job well done is nice, but you need to accurately and precisely spell out what the employee strengths are, and in what areas he needs improvement. This allows him to leave the evaluation with tangible insights into what he needs to focus on for career growth and to perform his job more effectively. Keeping a log over time with documentation of accomplishments and deficiencies makes it easier to offer specific details in the meeting.

Emphasize Development

The worst thing you can do in an evaluation is provide punitive feedback that demeans an employee and ruins his psyche. The second-worst thing you can do is not offer direction for improvement. Evaluations are a means for managers to reinforce effective work and attitudes and to offer correction or guidance where improvement is needed. If an employee is performing so poorly that you can't maintain a positive tone in the meeting, you probably shouldn't retain him. If otherwise, you need to reinforce his value, but offer clear goals and strategies for development. If additional training and coaching is needed, that should be discussed in a positive manner.


Though the manager's feedback to the employee is emphasized in the evaluation, it is important to seek feedback and listen to the employee. Asking "What can I do to help you better perform your job?" can result in valuable insight. An employee may be reluctant to open up, but with encouragement, he may share what support and training he thinks he needs. This gives you a chance to make any adjustments in your role or to offer needed assistance that improves the employee and the organization.

No Surprises

If an employee has been performing below expectations, do not wait for the formal evaluation to alert him, counsels the website Creative Financial Staffing. If problems are apparent, provide the appropriate counseling in a timely manner regardless of the formal evaluation schedule.

About the Author

Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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