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For many employees, evaluation day is the most dreaded day of the year because you never know for sure whether the evaluation will be positive or negative. What supervisors and managers may not realize is that the effects of the evaluation may last far past the original evaluation date. Understanding how the integral components of employee appraisals affect motivation can help you evaluate and motivate employees more effectively.
What Motivates Employees
As long as researchers -- and bosses -- have been studying employee behavior, the question of what motivates employees has been the subject of close scrutiny. Even so, plenty of employers have to keep reminding themselves that it's not always about the money. Employees are motivated to perform by a number of "rewards," including recognition, autonomy and appreciation. Not surprisingly, these motivators dovetail perfectly with the one aspect of employment that makes employees and managers alike miserable: the employee appraisal.
You Better Recognize
Many managers like to think they devote valuable space on evaluations to patting employees on the back for a job well done, without realizing that to an employee who managed to keep a department running smoothly even without two key employees, the money saved is not the key accomplishment. To make sure you understand what your employees find to be the most challenging aspects of their jobs -- and the accomplishments they are most proud of -- take the time a few days ahead of the appraisal to ask them to list a few of their most noteworthy accomplishments and obstacles during the evaluation period. Doing so will jog your memory and help you get to the heart of what is important to your employees.
Giving the Gold Star
Again, it's not always money that motivates employees. However, tying a great evaluation to some type of reward is a way to motivate employees to do their best in hopes of getting a great appraisal. Giving employees who score well on their appraisals a bonus, extra days off, preferred parking or even a paid lunch will show your gratitude for a job well done and also give employees something to strive for going forward. Rather than just checking off "excellent" or "good" on each evaluation criteria, take the time to actually write a statement that recognizes accomplishments and hard work. Just knowing you took the time to put that into words shows employees you recognize and appreciate their work.
Truth and Consequences
No discussion of employee appraisals or employee motivation would be complete without mentioning the downside -- evaluating and motivating under-performing employees. Knowing that an appraisal will be honest and will result in consequences if work is found lacking is an inherent motivator. Tying evaluations to rewards is key, but so is tying evaluations to consequences, up to and including demotions, restriction of privileges and the possibility of termination if the employee does not improve her performance. All of these can motivate employees to improve within the next appraisal period.
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A writer and information professional, J.E. Cornett has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Lincoln Memorial University and a Master of Science in library and information science from the University of Kentucky. A former newspaper reporter with two Kentucky Press Association awards to her credit, she has over 10 years experience writing professionally.
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