Many managers dread performance evaluations. Preferences, inexperience and a lack of training or confidence in themselves or the organization’s process are common reasons for this dread. Decreased morale or productivity and even attrition or lawsuits can result from poorly defined performance standards or misunderstood standards. Managers need to understand their role and the performance evaluation process if they’re to offer adequate guidance and support to employees and avoid these common performance evaluation errors.
Poorly Defined Performance Standards
Management’s success is largely dependent upon employee performance. Employees need to understand the requirements of their position with clarity. They also need support from management to meet, if not exceed expectations. For example, statements such as, “successfully launch the new product line,” or “manage the launch to ensure the client’s satisfaction,” infer positive performance yet they lack the specifics that employees need to guide their performance. These examples could be re-worded to, “Successfully launch the new product line by securing 80% of sales from new customers and 20% of sales from current customers to achieve an annual sales goal of $100,000” or “manage the launch to ensure the client’s satisfaction and the organization’s targets by completing on time and not exceeding 10% of the contingency budget.” Specifics provide clarity and clarity promotes performance.
Misunderstanding of Performance Standards by Employees
Employees can still misunderstand and not meet expectations, even when a manager has provided clarity about performance standards. Asking employees to provide insight into how they will approach achieving the standards may confirm that they actually understand and are prepared to realize the goals. Additionally, ensuring that you know employees and their communication style and past practices can help provide insight into how they will approach tasks.
Consistent, frequent two-way, communication is the best way a manager can guide employees and prepare them, the team and organization for success.
It’s easier to communicate with employees consistently throughout the year than to have uncomfortable and ineffective conversations when it’s time to complete performance evaluations. Communication is a key driver of performance—it can positively influence employee performance and impact your effectiveness as a manager. To avoid common performance evaluation errors, ensure employees understand performance standards by asking questions and provide them with consistent communication.
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