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How to Give Performance Evaluations and Employee Feedback

Feedback is an essential component of any organization, no matter whether it’s a big one or small one, as it enables workers and managers to understand what they are doing well and how things could be improved. An effective way to give feedback is through formal performance evaluations, these are especially important for small firms as it can be awkward giving casual feedback to members of staff in such a close-knit and confined environment where privacy is minimal.

In larger companies, you may find it difficult to sit down with every member of your workforce. In these instances; delegate. Get the head of each team or each department to carry out the reviews and have them report back to you. This takes it down from one hundred plus meeting to just a few.  Even if you employ a non-permanent workforce, it may be worth spending some time with your team so that they understand what’s expected of them, and who they can report to should they notice anything awry, or have suggestions about how processes could be improved.
If you want to get the best from for your employees then follow these six tips for delivering effective performance evaluations.
Make them a regular occurrence
Performance evaluations and employee feedback will only be effective if conducted on a regular basis. Preparation is essential and managers need to devote time to sitting down with an employee to discuss past performance. Not giving these meetings sufficient consideration will compromise how well your staff are performing, whether they are managing to reach their targets or goals, and can even impact on their impressions of you as a manager.
Two-way feedback
Performance evaluations aren’t just about one-way conversations where a manager does all of the talking. It should also be an opportunity for the employee to give feedback and discuss any issues or concerns that they have. It makes for a valuable forum for managers to understand how their staff feel about the organization, as well as highlighting any processes that need to be improved, and catching any discrepancies within the working environment before they escalate.
Set goals and targets
Performance evaluation isn’t just about giving feedback on how well someone has worked, but it’s about setting goals and targets for individuals that are in line with company goals and targets. Setting goals and targets makes it easier to measure staff performance, and it gives staff something to work towards. Just bear in mind that you may need to review the goals and targets if anything changes within the organization. Set realistic goals, and allow the employee to have some feedback into whether these are achievable or not.
When targets are met, don’t forget to congratulate the individual, or team, that has been involved with that particular task. It doesn’t need to be a huge gesture; an email congratulating the team on their hardwork is a nice gesture that means more to your staff than you think. Of course, if you want to bring in cake, no-one’s going to argue with that!
On the flip-side, if goals aren’t met don’t call your team in for a telling off. It’s likely that they’re just as disappointed as you so they need your support more than ever. Have a meeting where you discuss what was done well, why the goal wasn’t hit, and what you can do to help them get the task done. Showing that you’re on their side and willing to help out will motivate your staff, and make them want to succeed for you as much as themselves. 
Balance feedback
Try to maintain a balance to the level of feedback that you give by offering a mixture of positive comments, with areas that could be improved upon. Ideally, you shouldn’t just wait for an annual performance review to either give praise or express concerns; this should be done in a timely manner as your staff can’t change if they don’t know what needs attention.
Give good performance the recognition it deserves. However, leaving negative comments until months after the event can come as an unwelcome surprise to staff at the review, so always deal with issues as they arise. When you give feedback, be specific. Staff won’t be able to take your comments on board if you are too vague and can’t back them up with examples.
Don’t make false promises
If staff raise issues or concerns at a performance evaluation and you say that you will look into it, then make sure you do. Keep a note of everything that is discussed at the evaluation and make actionable points with each comment. Not following up on aspects can make employees feel de-motivated and question the significance of these sessions.
Offer training opportunities
One of the goals of performance evaluations is to ascertain if there are any skill gaps within the organization, and this is especially crucial for small businesses. Use this opportunity to identify how staff members could gain skills to do their job better. It will be a worthwhile asset to the company as well as give staff a morale boost. Many training or improvement objectives can be easily achieved in-house, without necessarily the expense of sending staff on costly training courses.
Published: September 25, 2013

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Lauren Roitman

Lauren Roitman is a freelance writer who has been interested in the inner workings of SME’s after working as part of a small team of three for several years. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, cooking and being active.

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