Employee evaluations can make us all cringe. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end, it's easy to view evaluations as a time-consuming nuisance, a pre-raise formality, even a source of conflict and bitterness. But what if instead of dreading the process, you cherished it as a chance to devote your undivided attention to discussing goals and exchanging views on how staff and center can better serve one another? As you'll see in these six tips for making employee evaluations time well spent, it's all a matter of perception.
1. Have the right attitude
As with so many things in life, it's all in how you look at employee evaluations. You can set the stage for a productive meeting by going in with the attitude that the evaluation presents time for an uninterrupted discussion about the employee's performance, including problems and areas in need of improvement. Conversely, the session can be an ordeal if you view it as the annual 15-minute ritual in which management offers the cost-of-living raise.
The evaluation can turn antagonistic if it's handled poorly. Year-round communication is crucial to a productive evaluation. Not every evaluation will go smoothly, but there should be no major surprises. The evaluation isn't the time or place to inform employees of specific criticisms for the first time.
2. Do evaluations on time
Promptness is key to showing staff you treat the process with the attention it deserves. Staff evaluations shouldn't be late, as you're usually dealing with pay increases. Ask employees to share the responsibility by notifying you if the evaluation date is approaching and you've yet to speak to them about coordinating a time.
3. Prepare thoroughly
The amount of time the administrator and the staff member spend preparing for the evaluation is proportional to the productive use of meeting time and to the satisfactory discussion of performance and work environment issues. It's helpful to create a checklist for things to do before and during the meeting (see "An Employee Evaluation Checklist").
4. Keep it private and unhurried
To create an atmosphere of open discussion, keep the evaluation away from prying eyes and ears. Either hold the meeting in a private area and keep the door closed or, even better, meet outside the center.
Set aside plenty of time for the meeting and give the employee your undivided attention. There should be no interruptions (barring an emergency such as a fire or a code blue). Turn off your computer screen and send all calls to voice mail. Set aside at least an hour for discussion and don't hesitate to run a bit longer if need be. Offer some coffee or a soft drink and settle in for the evaluation.
5. Read evaluations before you meet
Before you begin the discussion, review the employee's self-evaluation and let each employee review the written evaluations you've prepared. If there are exemplary ratings or if there's a need for improvement, spell out the reasons you assigned such high or low ratings. Include any comments from patients, physicians or peers.
6. Be sure to cover these areas
During the face-to-face evaluation, be sure to:
- review facility and employee goals for the next year, provide the employee with your views on how she can best serve the center in the future and ask how you can better serve her as a manager;
- discuss areas of conflict on the evaluation, including plans of action to correct those areas that need improvement;
- agree on a timeframe for achieving needed improvements; and
- ask if the employee has any questions about the written evaluation or the issues you've discussed.
Before the session ends, the employee should sign the evaluation. If the employee vehemently disputes the evaluation, give the person the opportunity to write comments on the evaluation form before signing. If an employee still refuses to sign, indicate such on the evaluation; in rare cases, you may want to bring in a third party as a witness to the refusal to sign (without telling that person any aspect of the dispute).
For you and for them, a pivotal time
There are many employees who do a good job every day, and they need to hear it from their manager. The evaluation is a good time to reinforce your positive relationship and exchange constructive suggestions for further improvement. For those staffers who don't regularly provide their best work and attitude, the evaluation can serve as a turning point to improve your working relationship and the employee's performance.