As American businesswoman Mary Kay Ash once said, “A company is only as good as the people it keeps.” Because people play a critical role in organizational outcomes, it is important for organizations to devote time and effort to develop their employees. In nonprofit organizations, smaller budgets and leaner management teams mean that sometimes important employee development activities are neglected. Performance evaluations are one of the most commonly neglected activities in nonprofits, yet when done correctly, they can be an organization's best tool for improving the performance of its employees and an employee's best resource for understanding the job expectations. With women making up more than 75 percent of the nonprofit workforce, understanding the basics of giving and receiving evaluations can be a valuable addition to your professional skill set.
Performance criteria included on a performance evaluation can be general areas of performance or may be specific to the job duties listed in the job description. For example, general areas of rating may include attendance, communication skills, job knowledge, judgment and time management. Criteria related to specific jobs might include customer service skills for a retail clerk, driver safety for a delivery driver or typing skills for an administrative assistant. Some nonprofits also require employees to set individual performance goals on which they are evaluated.
Rating scales are often used to score an employee's performance in the performance areas. Rating scales can consist of numbers, letters, words or phrases to indicate the performance level of the employee. Tying these ratings to measurable behaviors or outcomes provides the most accurate ratings. Managers and employees should both be familiar with the criteria to understand the ratings and their requirements. Clear rating scales are useful in a nonprofit because of personnel time constraints.
Performance Evaluation Process
Although the performance evaluation process varies among nonprofits, it usually contains several standard steps. Supervisors are generally responsible for completing the evaluation forms, sometimes with input from the employees. Many nonprofits use goal setting as a way to link their mission with employee performance goals, so during this stage in the process, an employee may create future goals or assess fulfillment of goals set in previous years. The supervisor and employee then may meet to go over the evaluation results. After discussing the results, the final evaluation should be signed by both parties and submitted to human resources or the proper person in the chain of command. Although the performance evaluation itself may only be conducted once a year, ongoing feedback and communication should be a regular occurrence so there are no surprises during the evaluation process.
Performance Evaluation Example
One category of performance criteria that may be included on a performance evaluation is "Performance of Duties." This broad category may include several subcategories including "Possesses job knowledge as required for position," "Seeks out opportunity to learn new tasks" and "Completes job duties independently." Possible ratings for this category could be Unsatisfactory, Needs Improvement, Satisfactory and Exceeds Expectations. There are many ways to conduct employee evaluations, so you should become familiar with the expectations of your organization to maximize your ability to effectively conduct performance evaluations or to meet the performance criteria for your own position.
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- University of San Diego: Summary of the Performance Appraisal Process
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- The Bridgespan Group: Performance Assessment
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