You've probably heard of it and you probably dread it: the eye-rolling, exasperation-inducing annual evaluation. Awful as it is, it's the primary tool supervisors use to evaluate employees. It's actually a collection of tools, each one coming together and driving the whole evaluation. The different tools enable supervisors to paint an accurate picture of each employee's performance, free of bias and opinions.
Without a list of expectations to meet or exceed, it's impossible to accurately judge how well an employee performed throughout the year. In most cases, expectations are not neatly bundled in an easy-to-read form, but instead gathered from many sources. For instance, a supervisor can glean the company's expectations for employee behavior from workplace policies and guidelines. For performance expectations, she can reference expectations set in a previous review or the company's performance numbers. Expectations are useless if the employee isn't aware of them, the supervisor must convey all expectations to each employee prior to the current evaluation period.
The best evaluations use irrefutable evidence when it comes to analyzing employee performance. Examples include a salesperson's sales numbers, a server's check average, a call center rep's satisfaction score and the time it takes a vending route driver to finish her route. The supervisor can use an employee's performance history and compare it to the expectations for each employee. Irrefutable evidence enables the supervisor to evaluate the employee without bias and explain in no uncertain terms where the employee can improve and where she's excelled.
The brain isn't well-known for its ability to accurately store information for a year and present that information in its original form. People tend to skew past experiences, recall things that never happened and completely forget important encounters and observations. Good supervisors write down what they see from an employee throughout the year, record behavior infractions, make note of excellent customer service skills and generally keep a running tab on each employee. The supervisor can then look back at those written records and reference where the employee stumbled and where she excelled.
An annual evaluation sometimes comes in two forms: the evaluation that the supervisor fills out and a self evaluation that the employee completes. Many employees regard self evaluations as terrors that should be stowed away forever in the supervisor's desk, but they're quite helpful and enable the employee to analyze herself. The employee may recognize different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities for growth, achievements and problems than the supervisor. Even if she doesn't, a self-evaluation forces her to take a long, hard look at herself, which can be enlightening. Forbes.com notes that while self evaluations are important, they're not very useful if the supervisor doesn't conduct an evaluation as well.
- George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images