As the end of the year draws near, it is very important to reflect on the successes and challenges in your business and how you and your team can learn from each. Employee performance evaluations is a great way to engage your team in this process. It is very important to identify gaps in management, execution, service and development. Employee evaluations are critical to this effort, but when they are completed ineffectively, they may prove useless to a manager and his or her employees. Ineffective employee performance evaluations are a significant problem and need to be addressed if management wants to ensure employees are contributing as much as possible to a business.

Where Business Owners Fail
The following are areas in which employee reviews go wrong, but there are simple ways for business owners to fix these issues and ensure their next round of evaluations will actually make a difference in employee behaviour, motivation, and performance.

One significant problem with reviews is employees who don’t take them seriously. However, these workers often mimic their supervisor’s attitude toward reviews, making it critical for business owners to express the importance of such evaluations. Make it a point to have a serious discussion during these conversations, and don’t make them seem like a chore. Employees will have more respect for what you’re saying and could take the message to heart.

The regularity of employee performance evaluations can also be a problem at smaller companies where business owners are pressed for time and may continually delay performance reviews. However, constantly pushing back these meetings tells employees they aren’t very important. Some entrepreneurs may forget to conduct reviews altogether and only set times for evaluations randomly. Make it a point to invest in your staff and schedule quarterly evaluations to keep employees from picking up bad habits and to encourage great performance. Teams appreciate when management takes the time to help them grow and show them new skills, so this could also be a way to contribute to staff retention and skill development.

Conducting More Effective Employee Performance Evaluations
For employee performance evaluations to actually make a difference in employee attitudes, work ethic and achievement it is important to have a clear process. Entrepreneurs who want to ensure workers are receiving valuable feedback and making the necessary changes may need to alter their strategies slightly to guarantee they’re accurately getting their message across.

Telling employees these reviews are a critical part of helping them grow with the company is one thing, but conducting them appropriately is equally important, meaning preparation is key. Ensure formalities like a meeting time and place are arranged, then come prepared with any documentation that may be necessary. This ensures you are prepared to tackle all subjects that need to be discussed and can show an employee examples of projects on which he or she succeeded or could have improved. It also helps to plan what you’re going to review, particularly if you’re training an employee for a management role. Being ill-prepared can cause you to forget key points and give an employee incomplete feedback.

Many managers may avoid reviews because they don’t want to confront their team members and merely hope things will turn around in the future. Unfortunately, this isn’t typically the case. While confronting employees won’t help them improve their performance, neither will avoiding tough conversations. Rather than ignoring problems, show a worker where he or she excels and then where they can improve. Some entrepreneurs may also find it helpful to ask employees where they think they could work harder and grow – staff members with weaknesses may realize there is an area in which they need to enhance their skills and already be working to address those points.

If you do need to address valid concerns with an employee, there are ways to ensure the discussion is as effective as possible. Sit next to the employee for the review, rather than across a long table, and choose a smaller room with a more intimate feel. This will create a more friendly environment and allow your team member to relax, rather than feel they’re being attacked for poor performance. While you want to be seen as a worker’s superior, you also want them to know they can trust you and take what you say not as an insult, but rather advice on how to improve and grow in their role.

Once you’ve discussed how employees can improve, it helps to set clear objectives or goals for them to meet. Rather than telling an employee he or she can improve, show them how they can enhance their strategy and offer to help them set goals they can aim to meet by the next performance review. Employees may also have their own ideas on how they can improve, better leverage their strengths, and what goals they should be meeting in the coming months. Listening to their thoughts when setting objectives can help you learn more about your team’s strengths, weaknesses and how they learn – all things that can alter how they grow with and contribute to business goals in the future.