Every supervisor should consider how to best evaluate their employees. For most, you probably can't help but think about it.
But the next step is actually going about it.
Once you embark on a deliberate program of assessing your employees, questions will begin to arise:
- Will the evaluation be a numerical rating scale?
- Do you want your employees to have more of a formative observation with feedback?
- Will your organization’s employee evaluation be a performance appraisal?
- Are you evaluating an employee on a specific event?
Depending on the outcomes that are intended, there are a variety of evaluations from which to choose. It's necessary to decide the purpose of the evaluation before choosing which type of evaluation to use.
It's also important to know the pros and cons of each type of evaluation. No evaluation can do everything for everyone. You need to know what you want out of your company’s employee appraisal system and the pros and cons of that system before you begin.
What is the purpose of your company’s employee evaluation?
Of course, an employee’s performance, behavior, attitude, skills, etc. are assessed through an employee evaluation, but what does that mean?
- Some evaluations focus on giving a concrete rating of the performance and behavior of the employee.
- Some assessments focus on rating the technical skills and competencies of an employee; whereas, other types of assessments focuses on growing those technical skills and competencies.
- Some assessments rate the interpersonal and communication skills of individuals; while others seek to grow them.
- Some target a notable incident that occurred and detail that event; others strive to penalize the employee for an incident and correct the behavior.
360 Degree Assessments and Feedback
This particular evaluation is based on the Johari Window model that was developed by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham. It was designed to increase an individual’s self-awareness and improve communication between people. With this type of assessment, the employee receives feedback from those people with whom they work - their subordinates, coworkers, clients and, of course, their supervisor.
By garnering feedback from a variety of people who work with the employee, this method provides a well-rounded perspective of the employee’s behavior, performance and attitudes. The feedback reveals those areas, both strengths and weaknesses, about which the employee is unaware.
Advantages of 360 Assessments
The 360 degree feedback is an excellent way to identify weaknesses, habits or behaviors that an employee may be doing but about which the employee is unaware. Further, it provides a means for working on them. The 360 degree feedback also corrects a flaw often found with supervisor-driven or supervisor-only appraisals - that of being unbalanced, biased or lopsided.
Disadvantages of 360 Assessments
One thing to keep in mind with 360 degree feedback comes when the assessment is given but the respondents have not be trained in properly responding. The respondents may be dishonest, mean or retaliatory, instead of being truthful and helpful.
The individual being assessed, if not properly trained may try to find out the names of the participants and retaliate. These behaviors can doom the 360 degree feedback process. For this reason, it's recommended to use professionals to conduct the assessments.
Further reading: How Much Does A 360 Assessment Cost?
Management by Objectives
Another type of performance assessment is called the Management by Objectives, MBO, or objective-based evaluation. This model was first introduced by Peter Drucker, a management theorist, in the 1950s. With this model the employee and supervisor establish objectives that the employee will seek to master within a certain time period.
Under the MBO appraisal, the objectives should be SMART - specific, measurable, achievable or attainable, relevant and time bound. At the end of the designated time period, the employee is evaluated to see whether or not they’ve met the objective. This is much more workable when the objective is very specific and easily measurable and attainable.
Pros for MBO
This approach can be effective when it's based on truth and applied with impartiality. The supervisor must also have some level of compassion for the employee receiving the corrective plan.
Cons for MBO
The problem with this approach is that it's a top-down employee evaluation system. The subordinate is often resentful of the feedback and may not even believe that the deficiency exists. The employee may choose to believe that the supervisor is out to get them.
This approach can also be misused by a supervisor who really doesn’t like or want that particular employee on the team. This method can turn into harassment or simply putting undue pressure on the employee in an attempt to force the employee to leave.
Numerical Rating Scale
One type of employee evaluation is the numbers-based ratings scale. With the numerical rating scale the supervisor scores an employee in a manner similar to giving grades to a student in school. The employee is evaluated in a variety of areas, such as communication skills, teamwork, customer service, technical skills, etc.
The appraisal may have an accompanying rubric to norm the scores. This rubric may set forth a minimum score requirement in order for an employee to be considered successful. If an employee doesn’t meet that minimum score on the summative evaluation or in a particular area, they are often put on an action plan.
Pros for Rating Scales
This appraisal system can be simple and easy to implement. It's not time-consuming for the supervisor to complete. It's used in various industries.
Cons for Rating Scales
One deficiency of this model is that it's overly simplistic. Another is that it’s not geared for growth. In this way it's strikingly similar to giving students grades: It scores performance but doesn’t offer any means for growth.
Critical Incidents Evaluation
The critical incidents appraisal is based on an event or incident, either good or bad, that occurred. The identification and description of the incident is the core of this evaluation. If the employee did something exceptional, a glowing report is given. If the employee makes an error, then that is reflected in the reporting.
Pros for Critical Incidents Evaluations
The obvious benefit of this method is the documenting of an extraordinary event, whether positive or negative.
Cons for Critical Incidents Evaluations
The cons of this method is that it necessitates detailed record-keeping. It can be biased and needs to have a numeric rating scale to make it more objective.
Positive Employee Feedback is Key
Regardless of what method of performance evaluation you choose, providing positive employee feedback is necessary. Even if the feedback is critical and points out areas for improvement, the delivery of the feedback should be positive and constructive.
There’s no need to tiptoe around discussing an employee’s weaknesses and what they need to work on because research shows that corrective feedback is appreciated.
The respondents of a Harvard Business Review study showed that more of them, 57%, preferred corrective feedback over the 43% who wanted praise and recognition.
More telling was the corollary to the previous statement, 92% of the respondents felt that negative feedback delivered in an appropriate and positive manner was effective.
Go Ahead and Give Feedback to Your Employees
If you want a successful company, then you must invest in a process for providing feedback formally and informally and you must ensure it’s constructive and positive.
Depending upon the purpose for your employee evaluations and what you want to do with them, you have several from which to choose. So, go ahead! Give feedback to your employees and watch them grow.
Further Reading: What Is 360 Degree Feedback?