What is wrong with employee evaluations

employee evaluations
When it comes to evaluations, no one likes being judged and standing in judgement. But there is another way!

Everyone hates them. That is not a news flash.

In a corporate setting, employee evaluations are a one-sided critique of performance that can be long, stiff, and impersonal. There is more fear about lawsuits than professional evaluation. On the small business side it’s almost nonexistent. Most small companies avoid them or stutter through a brief manager presentation.

The problem as I see it is that we all crave feedback and we crave being heard. What we hate is being judged and standing in judgement. The former is the very essence of trust building. The later, shameful and vulnerable.

Needed changes

To give meaning to an evaluation process there must a few critical changes:

  1. Make a feedback loop
  2. Untie compensation to the evaluation process
  3. Think mentor, not manager

1. Make a feedback loop

If you want to create a culture based on trust, results, and integrity then you must model that.

It is reasonable for evaluators and evaluatees to both come prepared to give feedback and to be heard.

Why does a manager get to evaluate the employee, but the manager doesn’t get to hear from the employee about how they are being managed?

Additionally, employees are usually bursting at the seams with ideas and improvement for the companies they work for. Either the company isn’t listening or hasn’t made it safe to tell. If everyone develops the skills of giving great feedback it will allow for a phenomenal use this time, build trust, and be the very definition of integrity.

2. Untie compensation from the evaluation process

Save that conversation for another time. If you remove the money issue, everyone relaxes a little bit. Carrots and sticks vanish. The possibility for an exchange of ideas whether for improvement or praise can take place. The reason for the evaluation can remain on professional development.

3. Think Mentor, not Manager

No one wants to be managed.

Employee evaluations are one of the best examples of feeling managed. But people, in the right circumstances, are not adverse to mentoring, especially when they get to describe how they want to be mentored.

If a two-way preparation process is followed by a great question session and a professional action plan, then goals are more apt to be met.

2 more important points to consider

1. Difficult conversations

When people are not thriving or are “toxic,” there will continue to be difficult conversations.

These are the conversations that need back up in writing and may turn into court, michigan unemployment or other legal documents. It much more serious issue than just providing an employee with New York posters listing federal and state labor law postings. These difficult conversations should not be called evaluations. They should be called what they are and separated from the feedback loop.

2. Make it a Triad

Which brings me to my last point. Evaluations, which I’ll call, Feedback and Development Meetings, should not be done one on one (neither should the aforementioned difficult conversations).

These should always be triadic conversations for two reasons:

1. There is a witness.

2. More importantly, with three people you can develop the practice of protecting and upgrading the relationships.

So often people walk out of evaluations having heard extremely divergent information than what was actually said. Learning and using three people to mirror, provide feedback, and check in with all parties will result in better outcomes.

This isn’t meant to be a gang up. This is a challenge to develop an amazing evaluation system with an uptick in results.

I spent decades doing evaluations. When I practiced these elements people looked forward to being in the conversation. Imagine that.

What have been some of your positive and negatives experiences with evaluations? Let me know in the comments below.


Ruth Schwartz

Ruth Schwartz is the author of "The Key to the Golden Handcuffs". She is a high performance business consultant and leadership coach. Connect with Ruth to participate in the conversation. Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube .