There can sometimes be the belief that employee evaluations need to be as detailed and long as possible to be effective. The thinking goes that the more information that is provided to the employee, the more they will improve. After all, there is no such thing as too much information, right?
The reality is that long, detailed employee evaluations can actually have a negative impact on performance. By providing too much information, you can easily overload an employee and leave them confused and unsure how to respond. They are left not knowing which areas of their performance they truly need to focus on. Also, getting an overwhelming amount of input can leave even a strong employee demoralized.
Employee evaluations are much more effective when they are short, to the point, and focused on the critical parts of an employee’s performance that needs to be improved. This way, the employee walks out of the evaluation with a clear idea of what they need to work on.
Here are some tips to help you create simpler employee evaluations:
- Tie employee evaluation criteria to goals for the employee. When you set specific goals for an employee and tie the evaluations to those goals, it provides a clear and focused link to what the employee should be working on and how their work helps them to achieve stated goals.
- Limit the evaluation to a handful of criteria. This goes back to specificity. If a rater is looking at too many different aspects of an employee’s work life, the resulting information likely won’t be focused enough to clearly communicate to the employee exactly what they need to do to improve work performance. A useful evaluation focuses on specific things and doesn’t overwhelm the reviewer or the employee with feedback on inconsequential details.
- Throw out anything that is irrelevant. To eliminate the need for multiple versions of review forms, some organizations throw everything into one form. This results in employees being evaluated on job skills or competencies that aren’t necessarily geared to their role, which can lead to a lot of confusion when it’s time to review those skills. Having more than 10 criteria in any section can also lead to rater-fatigue, a condition we use to describe how raters put less time into considering each rating when the list is long. Rater fatigue affects the accuracy of ratings and dilutes the potency of each rating and their subsequent comments. Employees should be evaluated on the 5-7 job skills that are the MOST vital to their role. This can sometimes be an administrative nightmare but software like emPerform that allows you to assign criteria based on role or individual without maintaining separate forms can make things very simple.
- Focus less about personality. When an employee evaluation form is concise, it leaves less room for potential critique on things like employee personality. Those criticisms usually don’t help an employee to be more productive or to do their job better and eliminating that sort of critique can help both employer and employee to avoid shifting the discussion into the realm of personal critiques that could be damaging to the working relationship.