Evaluating employee performance is an activity that is challenging for many managers.
This is a checklist that will help a manager conduct the preparation, delivery, and follow-up to an employee performance evaluation.
Long-Range Preparation (30-60 Days Out)
Select a location for the review.
Although a manager’s office is a common location, a neutral location such as a conference room is better. If a small meeting room is unavailable, it may be appropriate to select an office other than that of the employee’s supervisor. Casual settings are best.
Establish the conditions of the review meeting.
Ideally, the duration of a performance review meeting is between 1-2 hours. It is acceptable to schedule the employee for an hour-long meeting with the supervisor having an additional 30 minutes before and after.
Refuse to be sidetracked or interrupted. The use of electronic devices like cell phones and tablets should be minimized if not eliminated. Take any other steps necessary to deter outside interruptions.
Ask the employee to prepare.
When informing the employee of the upcoming review, ask them to conduct a self-evaluation (formal or informal) and compare their results against the organization’s mission, vision, and values.
Short-Range Preparation (10-14 days out)
Do your homework and focus on facts.
It is important that a manager be prepared to back up any factual assertions – both good and bad. A manager discussing tangible performance issues like absences or insubordination should be fully prepared to provide the details of actual incidents.
Dates, times, and the employee’s responses to these events should be in the reviewer’s hands BEFORE beginning the meeting.
Do your homework and know the employee’s professional characteristics
Resist the temptation to make up for a poor knowledge of the employee’s role by simply giving good ratings. Instead, evaluate what is known about the employee’s job and make an intentional effort to fill in any gaps in knowledge. Review the job description and reference it frequently.
Create a road-map for the meeting.
Never just ‘wing’ a performance evaluation. Too many things can and will go wrong if a manager doesn’t follow a structured approach to the discussions. Managers should have a clear idea of the things that they need to discuss and in what order they should be discussed.
Consider generating a rough draft of the review and go over this rough draft frequently in the days leading up to the meeting. Modify the document as knowledge expands. A manager might even wish to consider presenting the rough draft to other members of leadership (not co-workers or peers). Managers who are uncomfortable with confrontation might find value in practicing the discussion by verbalizing the script they intend to use during the review meeting.
Pre-Meeting Considerations (Immediately Before the Meeting)
Execute the logistical plans that were established earlier.
Take all the steps necessary to create the appropriate conditions for the meeting. Ensure that the room is prepared and comfortable, and make certain that all possible interruptions have been addressed.
Prepare all the necessary documents and materials
Before opening the meeting, make sure that there are ample copies of important documents like the employee’s job description and the organization’s mission, vision, and values statement. If specific goals were mentioned in the previous evaluation or if they will be presented in this review, ensure that these are documented appropriately. Finally, ensure adequate office supplies are available including paper, writing instruments, tissues, and water/coffee.
During the Meeting
Deliver an appropriate greeting and warm-up discussion.
All meetings should begin with a cordial but measured greeting. Authenticity is important in the opening sequence. Do not be overly glib (which can be taken as an amusing or manipulative overture) or inappropriately grave (which makes an employee uncomfortable and puts them on edge.) If the manager is uncomfortable with this piece of the interview, consider building a script and including it in the road-map to the meeting.
State the expectations of the position and ask about barriers
Open the substantive portion of the review by re-stating the expectations for the position.
In some cases, a manager might ask the employee to share their personal understanding of the position’s expectations before stating them. Once the expectations have been discussed, immediately follow up by asking the employee about any barriers to meeting these expectations.
Review and set goals
If specific goals were created at the last eval, discuss progress on those goals. Then set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely) goals for the upcoming employment period.
Follow-Up (In a Timely Manner)
Perform the necessary documentation
Document the encounter immediately or as soon as possible. Modify the draft performance evaluation as necessary and document a plan to follow up on any important issues. When finalized, obtain the employee’s signature on the evaluation. If there are disagreements about a supervisor’s conclusions, allow the employee to write a response to be included in their personnel file. (Keep in mind that, in some states, an employee has a legally protected right to do this.)
Execute the follow-up
If any matters were raised that required a follow-up, use the plan that was documented previously to actually follow up as indicated.