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Stressful, expensive, slow, ineffective — are these the first words that come to mind when you think of employee performance evaluations?

These are the most common complaints coming from both managers and employees. What makes employee performance evaluations that way may not be the lack of goodwill and effort. More often than you’d think, small but impactful mistakes in the way you approach them ruin their potential.

In this blog, we’ll share the most effective ways to conduct employee performance evaluations, applicable to any industry. 

Five Ways to Eliminate Stress & Perform Accurate Employee Performance Evaluations

Below, we describe how you should approach employee performance evaluations to make the most of them without wasting time, effort, and financial resources. No less important: these tactics make evaluations healthier and alleviate the resentment employees feel towards evaluations.

#1 Both Sides Should Come Prepared

A good rule of thumb is that employees whose performance is being evaluated should be advised to take more time to prepare for the conversation, mentally and physically. 

On the other hand, managers sometimes make the mistake of merely pulling printed notes they’ve never read before, thinking it will be enough to just go through them with employees, step by step. 

There are several reasons why this is wrong:

  • They might let their impressions and bias kick in. Productivity looks wildly different for different people. One person needs dozens of short breaks, while another has a seat at 9 a.m. and doesn’t get up until 5 p.m. Tracking employee performance with worker monitoring software can reveal the facts: they both do the same amount of work!
  • Missing out on good questions/ ideas. Getting to know the material beforehand allows you to take notes of things you wish to clarify. Moreover, you’ll give the information more time to mature, and view it from different angles.

Besides, coming to a meeting unprepared is just uncomfortable. 

This is how managers should prepare themselves and the employees for performance evaluation:

  1. Don’t wait for performance evaluation to provide feedback — If there’s anything you’d like to say or ask, do it ASAP. That’s what weekly briefings are for. Don’t wait to give and receive feedback, get it while it’s hot. Debating about the issue as it appears keeps the conversation contextual, and immediately solves the problem. Take notes between periodic performance evaluations, and you’ll have useful material to look into.
  2. Revise the data — The information surveys pulled for the feedback is in, and you should study it well, and catch the patterns, trends, and indicators. Create your notes as you go, with comments and questions you don’t want to miss.
  3. Set the agenda and prepare your employees —  Now that you know what you’re working with, it’s time to structure the conversation, and notify staff about what the performance evaluation is going to look like. Send them the topics and questions you’ll bring up, so there are no surprises or delays.

#2 Using Productivity Monitoring Tools Speeds Things Up

Wondering how to measure staff performance and productivity without micromanagement, peeking over their shoulders, or doing the handiwork of writing detailed reports for each of them?

Just use an office monitoring system and call it a day. 💆

Being an attentive manager doesn’t mean you need to personally and physically monitor everything, everywhere, all at once. Using employee productivity tracking software can solve several issues with minimal effort from your side:

  • Complete neutrality — Using employee monitoring software completely eliminates any bias. Once you enter the goals, targets, and productivity criteria, the software will track and show employee performance, and evaluate it for you with pre-set productivity indicators.
  • Monitoring remote workers productivity — The location of one’s office is a topic we should leave behind in 2022. More and more companies offer a remote work option as a norm, not a bonus, and it’s important to keep up. An employee tracking system with dedicated software creates a virtual, hybrid office on a single dashboard, with employee productivity stats added.
  • Real-time information, at any time — Employee monitoring software has no working hours, making managerial work flexible. You can access the data whenever you need it: during the meeting, or in advance.
  • Productivity analytics and reporting — You can select whatever data you need for employee evaluation, create a comparative analysis, and send it via email to interested parties.  

Pro tip: give your employees access to productivity monitoring tools. This way, they can learn about themselves too, and be able to improve before it negatively impacts their performance. 

#3 It’s a Constructive Dialogue, Not a Scolding Session!

Much of performance evaluation anxiety revolves around harsh or unfair criticism. 

While some managers swear by the “tough love” approach, it’s more likely to make workplace relationships toxic and make employees hate performance evaluations.

It’s not to say that staff must be coddled — there’s plenty of room for constructive feedback. 

A mature conversation that results in visible improvement will always include the following:

  • Tipping your hat to a job well done — to keep the morale high, sprinkle in some praise! Highlight their effort and elaborate on what went well, and why. In addition to boosting the will to continue working hard, you can learn from successful strategies, and let others in on them.
  • Minding your language — As you may guess, positivity will get you far. But, being objective and precise is equally as important. Good is a term that is too broad and says very little about what exactly is good. Instead, you should opt for words such as achieves, completes, possesses, manages, etc.
  • Active listening — What does it mean to “actively listen” to your employee, apart from not scrolling through your phone? An active listener empathizes with the speaker, trying to understand their perspective, and doesn’t shy away from questions for clarification. At the same time, you, as the manager, must apply critical thinking skills to distinguish between the employee’s opinions and points of view from verified facts. 
  • Keeping the dialogue alive — Alternating monologues where each party fails to listen carefully and just waits their turn? Not a dialogue. Active listening becomes a dialogue when participants ask open-ended questions, as much as they need to get a clear picture.
  • Working through solutions together — Remember, you are a team! It’s not you against the employee or vice versa; it’s you two against the problem. Keep the conversation goal-oriented and propose solutions that will boost their career, and align with company goals at the same time.
  • Someone’s personality isn’t a part of the conversation — It’s completely normal to get on with some coworkers more naturally than others. Still, as a manager, you should be extra careful not to let bias overtake the conversation. Their performance is the only thing that matters, and productivity tracking software will give you a clear understanding of it. You may bring up their behavior only if it has a negative impact on the workplace.

#4 Detach Employee Performance Evaluations From Firings and Punishment

Employee performance evaluations that go well inevitably lead to pay raises and promotions (in the companies that care about their staff, at least). 

However, that’s not the case for every employee. Those that know they could’ve done better in the last quarter know not to get their hopes high. Salary increases are scarce and hard to accomplish, and we’re uncomfortably close to recession, so the stakes are even higher.

So, the least you can do is to assure them a bad review won’t get them fired. Even for the most under-performing employees, employee evaluations should come as a saving grace — or a wake-up call. 

That constructive part we mentioned should be the very core of performance evaluation. Employee retention is constructive and brings profit, unlike employee turnover

This approach is a win-win. After all, people say that “feedback is a gift”. They may not love it the way they’d love a shower of praise, but if it’s the thing that boosts their career and keeps their job, it’s not bad at all.

#5 Set Goals for the Future and Refer to Them Frequently

Employee performance evaluations are no use if you never refer to their contents and outcomes in the future.

There’s some homework to be done once the performance evaluation is officially finished. In fact, now the real work starts:

  1. At the end of the performance evaluation, summarize your findings and conclude what needs to be done by the next evaluation.
  2. Create an action plan to meet the new goals. Break them into several smaller, less-intimidating tasks to complete day by day, week by week; make sure they’re achievable but challenging enough to keep the employee engaged.
  3. Get back to the employee regularly, to check their progress, help, and adjust the plan if needed.
  4. Inform the employee about the outcomes of their work.

How These Strategies Reduce Anxiety and Stress — The Conclusion

These tactics make employee performance evaluations fast and stress-free: 

  1. Both managers and employees are thoroughly prepared for performance evaluations.
  2. Productivity monitoring software keeps the process fast, effective, and transparent.
  3. Frame the employee performance evaluation as a constructive dialog.
  4. Don’t use performance evaluations as a prelude to punishment.
  5. Use performance evaluation results to set goals for the future — and follow through.

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