How to Conduct an Employee Evaluation

An employee evaluation is a challenging but essential practice that can help employers and their employees align on shared goals, review past challenges, celebrate accomplishments and set forth a game plan for future improvements.
 

A well-conducted employee evaluation can help motivate an employee to thrive in their career, and help employers get better quality work from their team members. An employee evaluation is also an opportunity to course-correct problems, lay the groundwork for a team member’s advancement within the company and create helpful documentation for HR concerns.

 

However, poorly conducted employee evaluations can leave workers feeling confused, dejected and unengaged.
 

Ensure your performance evaluations benefit you and your employees by trying these six pieces of advice.
 

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Prepare all feedback ahead of time

Don’t walk into an evaluation empty-handed, and don’t plan to fill out the employee evaluation form during your meeting with the employee. Instead, take time to compile your thoughts and feedback in advance and use your evaluation document as a framework for the meeting. By having all comments formulated beforehand, you can ensure the meeting stays on track and you don’t miss any critical points.
 

Keep your remarks clear and concise

If you’re not direct and transparent when delivering an employee evaluation, you risk employees leaving the meeting with confusion around goals or misconceptions about your expectations. The best way to guarantee clarity is to use specifics whenever possible. For instance, if you’ve given an employee a low score for time management, share examples of missed deadlines, or times when other teammates had to pick up their slack.

The same holds true for goal-setting, too. Make sure each goal includes a timeframe and method of measurement, so employees know exactly how you’ll determine whether they’ve succeeded or failed.

 

Provide employees with a copy of the completed evaluation form

While employees often enter performance reviews hoping to hear news about a potential raise or promotion, having the opportunity to receive honest feedback about their professional performance is something most workers value, too. By issuing employees a copy of their completed evaluation form — or at least a portion of the form — you’ll give your team members something to reference and help them stay on track to make the improvements you’ve outlined.

 

Keep employee review meetings a two-way conversation

Rather than lecturing an employee on the many things they need to improve and then sending them on their way, make sure the meeting is an open conversation. Give employees a chance to share their self-assessment, such as their greatest strengths, their biggest challenges and where they believe they should improve in the month, quarter or year ahead.

 
If an employee is quiet and doesn’t seem comfortable speaking up, engage them by asking questions like:

  • What’s the one accomplishment from the review period that makes you most proud?
  • Where do you think you’ve made the most progress since your last review?
  • In what areas would you say you need the most improvement?
  • How can I support you in meeting your goals?

End with a focus on the future

Discussing negatives, like recent failures or areas where employees have scored poorly, are uncomfortable for both managers and employees — but they must be addressed. After you’ve discussed these things, it’s time to shift towards the future, outline new goals and share your plans for improvement. Be sure employees understand that you’re on their side, you want them to succeed and you’re always available to talk through their challenges and concerns.

 

By ending on a forward-focused and positive note, the employee is more likely to leave the meeting feeling motivated and hopeful rather than criticized and discouraged.
 

Hold multiple evaluations throughout the year

While many employers conduct employee performance evaluations on an annual basis — often to assess whether or not an employee’s achievements merit a promotion or raise — holding weekly, monthly or quarterly informal review sessions are beneficial for employees and employers. More frequent reviews help alleviate some of the pressure from the annual employee evaluation, get employees accustomed to discussing their achievements and challenges and make receiving feedback less intimidating.

 

Plus, bringing up areas of improvement as soon as you witness a mistake provides employees the opportunity to change their behavior immediately, rather than continuing the same misstep again and again until the next scheduled formal review.
 

Employee evaluation examples

Here are a few examples of employee evaluations you can use for a range of employee performance levels: high performers, mid-level performers and lower performers.
 

High performers

[Employee name] is consistently a top performer in the sales department, regularly exceeding her quotas each week. This quarter, she adapted to major changes in team processes with a positive attitude that helped keep team spirits high. [Employee name] is also always willing to lend a helping hand. For example, she often serves as a mentor to more junior team members, going above and beyond her job description to ensure the team is operating at high efficiency. Above all, [Employee name] is an important contributor to the success of the organization and continuously produces more than is expected of her. In the future [Employee name] may want to consider taking on even more leadership responsibilities as she’s an excellent candidate for a management position.
 

Mid-level performers

[Employee name] meets the expectations for his role as a [job title]. He is a strong communicator and is excellent at building solid relationships with those around him — including both customers and coworkers. He handles conflict well and remains calm under pressure. [Employee name] is also making a strong effort to improve his customer service skills through online training and courses.
 

Although [employee name] has a positive, collaborative attitude, he tends to struggle with time management, meeting deadlines and producing consistent work. For example, when [employee name] is passionate about a project, he produces excellent work quickly and accurately. Other times, he produces work that needs to be re-done or completed by another team member. As a result, [employee name] may benefit from improving his organization and time management skills. One suggestion would be to set notifications on his calendar app or use a to-do list to stay on track. Overall, [employee name] has made a lot of progress since last quarter, and I’m looking forward to seeing his future growth.
 

Lower performers

While [Employee name] sets appropriate goals for herself, she often doesn’t take the initiative required to reach them. She has trouble dealing with difficult customers and consistently receives low marks on customer feedback surveys. When these issues are brought to her attention, she often responds with defensiveness and doesn’t take the necessary steps to improve.
 

[Employee name] has the potential to be successful at [company name], but would benefit from improving her attitude and showing more initiative at work. I encourage her to work on taking constructive criticism in a positive way to improve her performance. She may also benefit from taking our upcoming customer service training session to learn strategies that can help her deal with difficult customers. While there are a few things that need improvement, I’m looking forward to working with [employee name] in the coming quarter to help her reach her fullest potential.
 


Conducting a successful employee evaluation requires balancing direct criticism with praise and recognition, and setting challenging yet attainable goals to help employees grow. While maintaining this equilibrium can be tricky, giving straightforward and honest feedback — both positive and negative — will stimulate action and inspire team members to improve. By following these tips, you can open the lines of communication with employees, help employees excel in their careers and boost performance across your team or business.
 

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