Most managers find that writing an employee evaluation is stressful for a wide variety of reasons. They might not know what to say. They might not feel confident in their writing skills. They might not know how to help the team member improve.
Regardless, an employee evaluation can be a powerful tool to help your employees — and your business — improve.
In this article, we discuss some of the top tips to help you write the best employee evaluation every time.
Employee Evaluation Defined
Contrary to popular belief, an employee evaluation is about more than criticizing the mistakes made since the last performance review. Instead, it’s an opportunity to provide an honest evaluation of an employee’s activities — both the good and the bad.
But, again, the evaluation is not about tearing the employee down and making them feel bad. The focus should be on building them up and helping them improve.
Think of the employee evaluation as a tool you use to:
- Celebrate the positives
- Highlight skills and behaviors that they can work on in order to get better at their job
When you write evaluations and conduct performance appraisals with these two points in mind, you give your team members the information and the motivation they need to grow within their position.
Doing so benefits them and your business as a whole.
Tips For Writing A Helpful Employee Evaluation
1) Examine Your Employee Evaluation Form
If you don’t have a standard employee evaluation form that you use for every performance review, it’s time to make one. Such a template provides much-needed direction to the evaluation and review process and makes everything much easier.
If you do have an existing form or template, take a few minutes to examine the document.
This helps you get reacquainted with the information you need to execute the process while also helping you identify any changes — to the job itself or to the employee’s responsibilities — that you may have implemented since the last evaluation.
Doing this first ensures that you’re analyzing each team member with the most up-to-date criteria.
2) Read And Revise The Employee’s Job Description
As you’re preparing to write the employee evaluation, take a few minutes to read and, if necessary, revise the team member’s job description.
As you do so, ask such questions as:
- Is the employee fulfilling the basic requirements of the job (as put forth in the job description)?
- Has the job changed since the last evaluation?
- What exactly has changed?
An accurate job description is the foundation on which all helpful employee evaluations are built, so be sure that everything is up to date before you move on to assess performance.
3) Collect Feedback From Others
As a manager, you don’t see everything that goes on during the workday. You can, however, get a more complete picture of an employee’s performance by asking their coworkers for feedback.
Use that feedback to fill in the gaps that you may have missed so you have an accurate picture of the team member in question.
This information is also useful to include in the employee evaluation because it helps the individual see how others perceive their behavior and the way they work.
Such feedback can provide insight — and the motivation for change — that an employee might not have received before.
4) Have The Employee Fill Out A Self-Evaluation
Before you write your employee evaluation, have the team member do a self-assessment of their own.
This self-evaluation serves as a supplement to the other information you’ve gathered and helps identify any discrepancies between your point of view, other team members’ points of view, and the employee’s point of view.
In fact, giving the employee a chance to assess their own performance and explain the reasons they did what they did may reveal facts you weren’t aware of.
5) Review The Previous Employee Evaluation
Reviewing the previous employee evaluation can help you determine if the individual under review has met the goals you set for them. Doing so is one of the best ways to quantify their performance since the last time you wrote an evaluation.
For example, did they complete more repair calls in a shorter amount of time? Did they make more sales in the last three months than in the previous three months?
With those successes (or failures) in mind, you can write an employee evaluation that helps the individual see what they’re doing right and what they can work on.
6) Schedule Time To Talk To The Employee
Round out your information-gathering efforts by scheduling a time to talk to the employee one-on-one. Unfortunately, that is often easier said than done. You’re busy. Your employee is busy. It can be extremely difficult to find time to meet.
The simplest — and least stressful — way to get everyone organized is to use scheduling software, like Inch.
Inch’s easy-to-use app allows you to coordinate multiple schedules so that employee evaluation one-on-ones go off without a hitch, and you have plenty of time to discuss all the issues at hand.
7) Have A Purpose For Every Employee Evaluation
For each employee evaluation you write, ask yourself this question: What message do I want the individual to have fresh in their mind when they’re finished reading? The answer to that question is the purpose of the review as a whole.
You may consciously choose to focus on the same purpose for all of your team members during a single round of reviews. Chances are, though, that the purpose is going to be different for each and every team member you evaluate. For instance:
- For employee A, the purpose might be a specific skill they need to work on.
- For employee B, the purpose might be to encourage them to reach out for advancement.
- For employee C, the purpose might be that you want them to take on more responsibility.
Whatever the case, make this message the theme of the evaluation, and reiterate it multiple times so the employee understands.
8) Keep Employee Evaluations Objective
Keeping your employee evaluations objective can be difficult at times. You have biases. The employee’s teammates have biases. Even the employee has biases.
Sometimes, we don’t even recognize that we’re letting those biases influence the evaluation process, but they can seriously damage an employee’s future in your business.
To prevent this, do a thorough self-examination before each review, too. Set aside any personal feelings and opinions you may have — and the feelings and opinions of coworkers — so that you can be as objective as possible.
9) Use The Right Language
The words you use are just as important as the message, or purpose, you’re trying to communicate. That’s why it’s vital to use the right language during employee evaluations.
Be as clear and specific as possible without sounding trite and insincere. Avoid general terms like “good,” “great,” and “excellent.”
Opt instead for action words like:
These types of words are more descriptive and will be more meaningful to the employee.
10) Consider Their Total Performance
When writing an employee evaluation, consider an employee’s total performance since the last review — not just their most recent activity.
For an evaluation to be effective and helpful, it must be based on everything that occurred, not just the past week or month.
When you look at their total performance — not just the time last month when they saved a big project or the time they missed a critical deadline — it can help you be more objective with your feedback.
11) Start And End On A Positive Note
When writing an employee evaluation, always start and end with commendation.
Beginning with positive information helps the employee feel more comfortable and puts them in a better frame of mind to receive the opportunities for improvement that you mention later on in the review.
Similarly, try to end on a positive note as well. Chances are, the last thing you mention on the employee evaluation will be what they remember the most. If that last topic is negative, it could affect their morale and engagement for the rest of the day (and possibly longer).
Conclude your employee evaluation with commendation — even if there’s lots to work on — so they feel good about themselves and the job they’re doing.
Master Employee Evaluations With Inch
One of the best things to do before writing an employee evaluation is to review the individual’s work data for the months since their last performance review.
And one of the best ways to track, record, and save such work data is with workforce management software, such as Inch.
The Inch app is a suite of tools that makes it easy to manage, organize, and track every aspect of your team’s activities, including:
- Total hours worked
- Time on task
- Labor expenses
- Team communication
- Task assignment, monitoring, and completion
These features — and more — give you unprecedented control over an inherently complicated process and make it easier than ever to coordinate and optimize your team, track essential data for everyone on staff, and master the employee evaluation process.
For more free resources to help you manage your business better, organize and schedule your team, and track and calculate labor costs, visit TryInch.com today.