Let’s talk about Performance Evaluations.

No matter how we try to dress them up or play them down, let’s face it – nearly everyone hates performance evaluations. When I was in the Navy, which has a robust and disciplined approach to evaluating Sailor performance, I learned to write ‘evals’ in a very specific way – with the ultimate goal being to promote or not promote my Sailors. Similarly, when I received my own ‘evals’ from my supervisor, I learned to decipher my performance based on which boxes were checked and what numbers I received. Eval time was intimidating, daunting and it felt like my worth as a Sailor was on the line.

In the civilian world, performance evaluation time doesn’t have to be a daunting or intimidating time for our employees. In fact, they don’t even need to be a surprise – employees should go into a review already knowing about their performance because we are providing feedback on the regular. Review time can be more of an opportunity to ‘check the alignment’ – a chance to examine employee performance in light of the company’s strategic goals, and an opportunity to explore ways we can help employees achieve their own professional goals.

We have talked at great length about the importance of developing employment practices that protect your business while also taking care of your employees. Performance evaluations are one of the best ways you can accomplish both. When you are defending a termination, written performance evaluations can be valuable to provide necessary justification for poor performance. Performance evaluations can also be encouraging for employees who derive satisfaction from written documentation of their hard work and good results.

It might be worth putting a tickler on your calendar to get those evals done at least once a year. Let me know if you would like to talk further about reviews, what to do, what not to do, and other best practices.