Qualitative job performance evaluations are the most common type performed in workplaces. Most employees have a qualitative performance evaluation once a year, but some companies may have none while others may have them more often than once a year if they choose to do so.
Qualitative performance evaluations focus on the qualities of job performance that can be observed but not measured, such as communication skills or teamwork.
Quantitative performance reviews, on the other hand, look at job performance in terms of issues that can be measured, such as sales figures.
Qualitative performance evaluations are more common than quantitative evaluations because job success in many fields can't be measured with quantifiable data alone. Sometimes quantitative data is used in a qualitative evaluation.
Qualitative job evaluations serve two major purposes for most companies. They give employees and managers the opportunity to talk about an employee's performance, recognizing places where the employee deserves to be praised and places where the employee can make improvement. Qualitative data, such as how the employee relates to other employees in the department, is considered.
Qualitative job evaluations also allow employees to make choices about how to grow their career within a company. For instance, a qualitative evaluation might show that an employee has shown so much leadership in his department that he should be promoted.
Qualitative evaluations can come in several forms.
Top-down performance evaluations take place between a supervisor or supervisors and a direct-report employee.
Peer-to-peer evaluations occur when co-workers rate each other's performance against their own performance and the performance of others in the department.
Qualitative data from a variety of sources, including managers, co-workers, vendors, customers and staff, go into 360-degree performance assessments.
Self-assessment evaluations ask employees to grade their own performance.
Because quantitative evaluations consider nontangible factors, they are often the best way to evaluate employee performance in industries where quantifiable data is minimal, such as graphic design or library science.
Evaluations can also improve job satisfaction since employees have the opportunity to receive praise for their work.
For employees whose performance falls short of company standards, evaluations offer an opportunity and guidelines for job improvement.
Qualitative data is necessarily subjective, which means it may be hard to justify should a manager be asked to do so by a superior or a lawsuit. One way to minimize this problem is to set standards for qualitative data that can be applied in the same way for all employees.
Qualitative evaluations may also lead to questions about how criteria should be weighed against other criteria in determining whether to grant employee raises or promotions.