Please consider these points while filling in the employee evaluation forms, and also consider these points when you meet with
your employees to discuss the evaluation.
For supervisors, evaluate how the supervisor has helped the employee
increase job knowledge and job skills. Dialog is the important activity.
The employee's job is to help the supervisor accomplish goals.
Together, goals may be achieved. The supervisor provides tools and equipment and the goal while the employee does
the work. When the employee is not getting the work done, this is direct result of the supervisor's not doing his
The unfortunate reality is that nothing can be done to guarantee that an
employee will not sue, no matter how progressive an employer's practices. What can be done, however, at minimal
expense and inconvenience, is to establish and enforce some fairly simple guidelines in perhaps the most important
aspect of "preventative management," that is, in obtaining and documenting honest performance evaluations of your work force.
Without question, the easiest way to show the EEOC or an employee's lawyer
that an employee has been treated fairly is to have a personnel file full of honest, comprehensive performance
reviews. Conversely, nothing hinders an efficient resolution of a claim more than to have a file full of "fair"
to "excellent" reviews, when management actually believes that the employee was "unsatisfactory."
The contents of an employee's file are critical; this cannot be stressed enough.
For example, one company used to rate its employees on a scale of one-to-ten,
with one being the lowest rating. In defending a discrimination suit for this client, lawyers found that supervisors
had in fact used the following scale: "eight" was unacceptable; "nine" was average; "ten"
was very good. No one received scores less than seven. Then, not surprisingly, supervisors wrote notes on the sides
of the forms like "10 plus" or "11." This client's scale was meaningless. Even though successfully
defended in the discrimination suit, the evaluation process was completely rebuilt. First, instead of using "undefined"
numbers, the evaluation forms were changed to reflect a more meaningful one-to-four scale, using the corresponding
words "unsatisfactory," "average," "good," and "superior." Also, the evaluation
forms clearly noted that management expected 60% of the work force to be "average," and the rest to fall
within a "bell-shaped" curve.
Of utmost importance was the training program developed for its evaluators,
in which the importance of honest and complete evaluations was stressed. As part of the training process, the client's
Human Resources Director developed a "wish list" for performance reviews of employees, which was shared
with the evaluators. During the training, the evaluators are expected to:
Well documented, honest evaluations make a "progressive discipline"
policy much easier to implement. Small problems are caught early and an employee is given the chance to correct
them. Any employee appreciates that chance. Conversely, simply "going through the motions" of a progressive
discipline policy, in order to "document" a termination, merely causes the employee to feel apprehensive
about his job, and will actually increase the chance of a lawsuit.
Once an employer has established a policy of progressive discipline, supervisory
personnel must be retrained in the process to ensure consistent and fair handling of disciplinary problems. The
key to a progressive discipline policy is consistency. If it is used with some employees, but not others, the employer
is susceptible to post-termination claims of discriminatory treatment.
Where progressive discipline policies are used, all actions taken under the
policy should be documented. An employee who is terminated after failing to comply with requirements or commitments
established under a progressive discipline policy should not be surprised. If it works as it should, the employee
should be very aware of the potential consequences of failure.
The cardinal rule of "preventative management" is that a termination
of employment should never be a surprise. In the hundreds of depositions from plaintiffs suing their former employers,
one common theme has emerged: In the vast majority of cases, plaintiffs say under oath that they believe they were
performing well -- and that no one ever told them their work performance was unsatisfactory. Thus, they testify
that their termination had to be for some unlawful, i.e. "discriminatory," reason. Of course, even the
most carefully implemented performance reviews and discipline procedures will not prevent all employment-related
lawsuits. What an employer should see happen, however, is that non-performing employees will not be surprised when
they are let go, thus decreasing the odds that they will seek out an attorney because they believe they "have
been treated unfairly."
And, when a former or current employee sues anyway, the employer will have
a written record that will allow it to successfully handle EEOC complaints and defend lawsuits, at greatly reduced
inconvenience to the employer's business and a significant decrease in litigation costs. The best result, however,
may be that the ongoing review system -- that allows for honest, meaningful communication -- actually improves
employee morale and makes for better job performance. All at minimal risk.
There is no set of rules that determines what should or should not be included
in an evaluation. The evaluation process can be formal or informal, it can reflect input from only the supervisor,
or include information from staff members' peers or external (to the organization) colleagues. It can be based
on staff job descriptions, annual work plans, or the organization's strategic plan. The executive director, possibly
with the assistance of the personnel committee, should establish a format that will allow for an exchange of information
and strengthen staff effectiveness. In general, employees sign the evaluation to indicate acknowledgment of review,
but not agreement with the evaluation. A staff evaluation process may include an opportunity for the person being
reviewed to respond in writing to any points of disagreement.
Staff evaluations should address the following questions:
Try this Form:
American Proteins, Cuthbert Division
Probationary Review Merit Review Transfer Review Promotion Other _________________
Employment or Transfer Date:
Jobs the employee has worked on:
Appraisal Time period
Most recent earlier review:
Performance Level [circled
number reflects status]
does not meet
01. Quantity of Work
Output level consistent with jpb expectations and performance standards
02 Quality of Work
Reviews completed assignments for accuracy and completness
Achieves results consistent with known job expectations and performance standards.
Extent to which employee can be counted upon to carry out assignments to completion.
03 Knowledge of required skill or procedure
Information and understanding of job, equipment possessed by employee
Underst6ands skills and procedures to perform designated tasks
04 Interest or attitude toward work
Extent to which employee is a self starter in attaining objectives of the job.
Attends work as scheduled. Amount of interest and enthusiasm shown in work.
05 Ability to work with others
Extent to which employee effectively interacts with others in the performance of his/her job.
06 Adherence to Company rules and Safety rules
Familiar with Employee Manual. Reads bulletin board, MSDS files.
07 Punctuality/Regular daily attendance
Problem No problem Comments __________________
Problem No problem Comments __________________
Employee:_________________________________________________ Date: _________________________
Signature indicates only that the evaluation has been reviewed and that the employee
has received a copy. It does not signif concurrence or agreement.
Plant Manager _______________________________ Date:
Human Resouce Manager ____________________________________ Date:
Performance Level [circled
number reflects status]
does not meet
Key Ideas for reference:
Work quality Dependability Initiative Flexibility Skill building Job knowledge Punctuality Supervisory ability
General comments on performance: Goals for the coming year:
Initiative Planning Communications Cooperation & Teamwork
Performance Level Guidelines.
Level 5 - Consistently Exceeds Job Requirements WELL ABOVE
Performance at this level is at the maximum and always beyond acceptable
requirements for the position. Duties and responsibilities are not only excellently met, but consistently exceeded.
Performance repeatedly well above expectations. The employee should be informed of the strengths and accomplishments
which have been observed as well as potential for growth.
Level 4 - Meets and Usually Exceeds Job Requirements ABOVE
Performance at this level is above average in acceptable requirements for
the position. Duties and responsibilities are well met and usually exceeded. Performance occasionally above expectations.
The employee should be informed of the strengths and accomplishments observed and ways to continue to improve upon
Level 3 - Consistently Meets Job Requirements MEETS
Performance at this level is at the average of acceptable requirements for
the position. Duties and responsibilities are met consistently and in a satisfactory and acceptable manner. Performance
consistently meets expectations. The employee should be informed of ways in which performance could exceed expectations.
Level 2 - Inconsistent in Meeting Job Requirements BELOW
Performance at this level is at the minimum of acceptable requirements for
the position. Duties and responsibilities are marginally met. Performance occasionally below expectations. The
employee should be counseled concerning the specific steps to be taken to meet expectations.
Level 1 - Does Note Meet Job Requirements WELL BELOW
Performance at this level is below the minimum of acceptable requirements
for the position. Duties and responsibilities are not met in an acceptable manner. Performance is repeatedly below
expectation. The employee should be counseled regarding specific steps to be taken to evidence improvement.
What are employee's strengths? Please provide specific examples of employee's major achievements during the review
period. How can this employee improve his/her performance?
What training or learning experience would help this employee improve his/her
What goals should this employee reach between now and the end of the next
Growth and Development (consider for present position only). List the employees
strengths and developmental needs: Develop an action plan (when appropriate specify dates and times):
Giving a performance review is a lot like going to the dentist - although everyone knows that it's important, no
one likes to do it. As a result, managers tend to put them off until the last possible moment - if they do them
at all. In fact, James Hackett of the Bunker Hill Group (Peabody, Mass.) reported at the Society for Human Resource
Management's (SHRM) recent annual conference in Chicago that only 50% of all performance appraisals are ever conducted.
And half of that 50% are not completed on time.
The value of a review deferred. As has been widely reported here and elsewhere,
the impact of delayed - or nonexistent - performance management appraisals in a pay-for-performance environment
ranges from bad to worse. In a complete feedback vacuum, for example, employees have no idea of how they can add
value to the business and/or the bottom line; efforts on the company's behalf are not recognized (and therefore
are not likely to recur); pay and promotion decisions are not based on any known/accepted criteria, so may appear
unfair or, at best, arbitrary; and morale is likely to be low or nonexistent.
Performing a "generic" performance review is no guarantee of corporate
and employee satisfaction, either. Consider this litany of complaints regarding the annual appraisal process, from
the May 1996 Training article, "Performance Appraisal: Can We 'Manage' Away the Curse?," by Chris Lee:
"A once-a-year 'event' doesn't improve performance";
"It's too time-consuming for the benefits it provides";
"Employees have no say in the process"; and
"Ratings are ill-defined and inconsistently applied."
To top it all off, Lee notes that "fear (on the employee's part) and
loathing (on the manager's part) seem inevitable when salary and promotional decisions rest on one individual's
judgment of another."
What can an HR/compensation manager do? Get out of the annual performance
review rut and develop an ongoing approach to performance management. More important, design a system that moves
away from a manager-directed, top-down appraisal to one that is shared - if not driven - by employees.
This is crucial to an effective pay-for-performance appraisal system, particularly
in a downsized environment where fewer managers are responsible for more employees- and the prospect of more anything,
especially performance management, is overwhelming. Last, but certainly not least, strive to keep money separate
from the process as much as possible.
A sampling of the approaches companies are taking to meet these challenges,
from the Bulletin to Management: Three steps to success. Household International's old system consisted of a once-a-year
"report and rebuttal" meeting. Now, the company follows these steps:
1. The planning process. Employees establish their own action plans and work
with their supervisors to set measurable goals, then seek guidance from supervisors to help them reach their objectives.
2. The coaching process. Employees monitor performance with their managers
throughout the year with continual coaching. A formal interim review is held halfway through the year. Key: Employees
are measured against established objectives, not unspoken expectations.
3. The reviewing process. Supervisors review employee performance and receive
feedback on the help they are giving employees.
Expanding employee involvement. Amoco Corp.'s performance appraisal system
has been a work in progress, changing as a result of restructuring at the company that left many managers with
as many as 20 or 30 employees (6 is a oft recommended limit) reporting directly to them. A manager with 25 reports
must spend roughly 12.7 hours per employee for each performance management cycle during the year, which adds up
to about a month a year.
To address this, Amoco has shifted more accountability for the process to
employees. For starters, employees and their managers agree on quantifiable objectives for which the employee is
held accountable. Plus, employees are asked to identify coworkers who will provide performance feedback at the
end of the year.
Choosing goals that make business sense. Sears Roebuck & Co. uses individual
goal setting, which includes a statement of three or four priorities that are under the control of the employee
and clearly linked to the company's strategy. Employees propose their priorities, goals, and measures, and then
have them approved by their managers. Key: Priorities are intended to be reviewed and revised throughout the year,
thus linking measurable individual accountability and shifting business strategies.
Taking a "formless" approach. Allstate Insurance Co. has its personnel
write their own reviews - using any format they want - to limit the demands on managers' time. The only requirement
is that each employee must have three performance-related conversations a year with his or her manager.
Note well: Whatever you decide to do, do it often. This is particularly important
when pay is on the line. As Lee so aptly put it in the Training magazine article, "A performance management
system that requires several reviews throughout the year is one way to make sure that employees' focus is on the
feedback rather than on translating their 'exceeds expectations' rating into dollars. Mini-reviews that check an
individual's progress against goals can disconnect money from development issues.
"Other techniques include removing ratings from the appraisal process
so that merit increases [and other payouts, PFP hastens to add] are a separate managerial decision, or separating
the due dates for reviews and salary decisions by several months."
Is there an easier way? Consider the following "best of all possible
worlds" approach". I advocate a performance management process which is a normal part of every employee's
working relationship with the person to whom he/she reports. They jointly review the performance on a regular basis,
decide what could be improved (including better work environment, better management support, as well as improvement
in the subject's work methods), and then plan how to achieve those improvements.
"No pseudoscientific ratings, no pretense at objectivity. Just good
management and good communication."
Sadly, most managers are either unwilling or unable to provide this level
of performance feedback. However, they can begin to lay the groundwork for this in a number of ways, including
but not limited to the following (from the AMACOM book, Super motivation, by Dean Spitzer):
"It's 'pay now or pay later,'" according to Jerry Sterner, a consultant
with Kepner-Tregoe, Inc. (Princeton, N.J.), in the Training article. "You can put effort into laying out clear
expectations, measurements, feedback, and consequences, or nurse everyone along and put out fires all year long,
and then start it all over again the next year."
Have you been afraid to discipline or fire a problem employee because you
worry about the possible legal repercussions? Do you sometimes avoid corrective action because you don't know how
to handle the situation, or it makes you feel uncomfortable? Have you warned an employee countless times about
poor performance and have yet to see improvement? :
The following are actual excerpts taken from "employee
reports" of (British) Royal Navy and Marine Officers.
"His men would follow him anywhere, but only out of curiosity."
"I would not allow this officer to breed."
"This officer is really not so much of a has-been, but
more of a
definitely won't be."
"Since my last report, he has reached rock bottom and
"The only ship I would recommend this man for is citizenship."
"Works well when under constant supervision and cornered
like a rat in a trap."
"When she opens her mouth, it seems that this is only
whichever foot was previously in there."
"He would be out of his depth in a parking lot puddle."
"This young lady has delusions of adequacy."
"She sets low personal standards and then consistently
fails to achieve them."
"This Officer should go far -- and the sooner he starts,
And my personal favorite...
"This man is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot."