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Susan M. Heathfield

How Not to Approach Performance Evaluation

By October 19, 2013

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Interested in why organizations do employee performance evaluation? Employee performance evaluation is both an evaluative process and a communication tool.

Done traditionally, employee performance evaluation is universally disliked by supervisors and employees. I actually support organizations pursuing formal systems of employee goal setting and feedback. But, the devil is in the details. I am not a fan of traditional employee performance evaluation.

When I think of traditional performance evaluation, I picture a company-developed and required form that a supervisor is required to fill out annually. Most of these forms require that the supervisor rate the employee on work processes and personal characteristics such as leadership and team work.

Some companies have added an employee self-evaluation to their annual process, but the ratings, rankings, and areas needing improvement generally reflect the supervisor's opinion with little employee input.

To make the situation even worse, in many companies, the employee's scores on the performance evaluation define his annual salary increase. In such a setting, supervisors avoid employee performance evaluation as long as possible.

And, who can blame them? By doing an honest performance evaluation, the supervisor risks demotivating the employee and earning the employee's wrath because the ratings provided a lower salary increase. Additionally, I don't know too many people who really want honest feedback and very few employees care to discuss needed improvements with candor when their salary is affected by the discussion.

Organizations pursue this path of performance evaluation, with modifications, for good reasons and bad. I recommend a different approach. Consider performance management. Learn more in my Powerful Performance Management email class.

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