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A common responsibility for a manager is to complete job evaluations his or her direct reports. These reviews often take place every six to 12 months and cover how well the employee performed compared to expectations. While the meeting might go smoothly with an employee who is doing well, evaluations for under-performing employees can present a challenge. However, a manager can still follow some basic tips to express himself positively to motivate employees to improve.
One of the best ways to ensure a positive evaluation experience is to communicate consistently with your employees throughout the year. A formal evaluation shouldn't reveal any major surprises -- positive or negative. If you address positive performance and negative behaviors as they happen, the formal appraisal can focus on where the employee stands relative to company and career goals. This sets the stage for a more productive and forward-looking evaluation.
Even when an employee has performed well, he or she may feel a bit nervous about being evaluated. You can set a positive tone at the outset of the meeting by engaging in casual conversation. Asking the employee how he is doing, what is new and how he feels about his role in the company can all stimulate more relaxed and engaging conversation.
If not handled appropriately, your review process can end up being a demotivating experience for your employee. If you adopt a punitive attitude in which the employee must listen to a laundry list of faults or failures, he or she is likely to feel frustrated and unsure of how to improve -- or even whether improvement is possible. To make sure the evaluation meeting is productive, identify your employee's strengths and deficiencies relative to specific criteria. Point out the importance of growth in areas of struggle and identify action steps for improving, such as coaching or training.
Value the Employee
Evaluations should focus on employee behaviors and work performance, not on personality. By conveying that you value your employee, you help separate needed skill development from personal criticism. You might say, "You need to focus on developing a better approach to following up with customers. As you know, customer satisfaction is critical to our long-term success. We have great faith in your abilities and developing yourself in this area will increase your value to the company, while also helping you feel better about what you accomplish in your job."
Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.