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Its Just Not Fair: Some Random Musings on Employee Evaluations

All of us have experienced an employee evaluation at some point in our lives.  For those of you lucky enough to get to evaluate others in your workplace, this posting may be of some assistance.  We will skip over all the discussion of forms and processes and focus today on the actual work of evaluating (those other things are very important, so promise to think about them later).

For those of you with kids in school, their lives are full of evaluations.  On the academic front, most of you received report cards recently and attended a parent-teacher conference to hear all about the good and bad.  On the athletic front, your kids may be trying out for school sports teams or club teams in their sports of interest.  One common thread in those athletic teams is that coaches are trying to pull together the best mix of talent to form a team.  In theory, this is what your employee evaluation process is all about (and your hiring process).  Just like with a sports team, you are constantly working on developing your employees and increasing their skills or correcting their weaknesses to strengthen your business and build a good workplace team.  Here are some things to consider with respect to how you evaluate your employees:

  • Evaluate the performance in the position and not the person.  It doesn't matter how much you like or dislike the person on a personal level as you conduct your evaluation.  What matters is how the person performs in the assigned role and how that person helps the team succeed.
  • Review the overall performance over a period of time not just in the weeks prior to the evaluation.  You should be evaluating your employees on a day-to-day basis and sharing your thoughts along the way.  Nothing you say on the evaluation should come as a surprise to your employee.
  • Score performance with a consistent metric.  In other words, use the same grading scale when you evaluate employees.  Don't be an easy grader for some employees and a hard grader for others.  Fairness and equity are key.
  • Have courage.  Don't be afraid to tell it like it is.  You aren't doing your employees any favors if you aren't telling them the truth.  How will they improve if you don't show them areas where improvement is needed?

These thoughts are just a start.  When you think about employee evaluations, take a moment to consider what you would like to hear during your own evaluation.  Think about what you would like to know about your kids' evaluation by a coach or teacher.  This will help you provide your own employees with an evaluation they can build from, instead of just a run of the mill process that leaves them wondering.


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Don Berner, the Labor Law, OSHA, & Immigration Law Guy
Boyd Byers Image
Boyd Byers, the General Employment Law Guy
Jason Lacey Image
Jason Lacey, the Employee Benefits Guy
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