Performance evaluations are one of the most important communication tools an organization can use to improve productivity and enhance morale. They benefit both employees and employers because they provide a time to provide feedback, recognize quality performance and set expectations for future job performance. It is also a time to have candid conversations about performance that is lacking and how performance can be improved.
So how often are they necessary?
Performance evaluations should be done at least annually to provide employees with honest feedback on how well they are (or are not) meeting their employer’s expectations. Ideally, having that information will allow employees to change in ways that will advance the organization’s business goals.
As with anything, there are good ways to perform an evaluation – and ways that are not so good.
Here are few of the common shortcomings in performance evaluations:
- Employee reviews are not done or not done routinely. If reviews are not performed as scheduled for some or all employees, there will be lack of “back-up” documentation if discipline or discharge becomes necessary.
- The established review process has not been followed, including not doing reviews within designated time frames. Differences in process from one review to the next can create questions as to consistency and lead to claims of discrimination.
- Performance coaching and feedback has not happened on a regular basis prior to the review and the employee is “surprised” by their review.
- Many organizations experience difficulty in the evaluation process because supervisors are reluctant to provide honest, candid and sometimes critical evaluations so as to avoid friction between themselves and their subordinates with whom they must interact.
- Out of a desire to avoid conflict, many performance evaluations end up being glossed over assessments of employee performance with each employee receiving an overall rating of satisfactory or better.
- Grade inflation” or inaccurate performance grading during performance evaluations frequently ends up hampering an employer’s ability to take adverse employment actions if and when they become necessary.
- During employment law suit trials, juries often view “average or better” ratings as evidence that a manager who testified that the employee’s poor performance was the reason for the discharge is covering up an unlawful motive for the termination. Juries are often resistant to accepting the idea that “average” means something less than meeting the employer’s expectations.
- Failure to mention specific examples of positives and negatives, or failure to make specific suggestions on how to correct negatives, often leads to employee confusion and difficulty in substantiating future disciplinary actions.
If you are an employer and would like help with your employee evaluation processes, consider calling on the attorneys at Kainen, Escalera & McHale in Connecticut. We do one thing, and one thing alone – we are a Connecticut employer defense law firm – we work to protect and defend the interests of employers throughout the region. What’s more, each of our Connecticut attorneys has over 20 years of experience in employment and labor law matters and can provide your business with comprehensive legal counsel ranging from assistance with necessary preventive measures to trial advocacy. Please call us if we can help you.
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