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Writing a standard employee evaluation is hard enough. It's even more challenging when the employee’s main duties revolve around interpersonal skills that are hard to measure, such as those needed by human resources professionals and customer service representatives. You must describe and rate observable behaviors to craft a fair and meaningful evaluation, which should serve as a catalyst for honest dialogue between you and the employee.
The performance evaluation process starts at the beginning of the rating cycle, not the end. You must tell the employee at the beginning of the rating cycle what you expect of her, so that there is no “You didn’t tell me” argument later. Give the employee a written statement of duties that includes specific, attainable goals, such as, "You will maintain an average customer satisfaction rating of at least 4 on our 5-point survey scale." Have the employee sign and date the statement and give her a copy so she can refer to it and measure her progress through the rating period.
Interpersonal Skill Subsets
Interpersonal skills encompass a wide range of behaviors. Some people have a great relationship with their managers, but are uncooperative with their colleagues. Others get along well with their peers, but treat customers like undesirable outsiders. When writing an employee evaluation, break interpersonal skills into subsets of behaviors so you can accurately describe how the employee interacts with others in a range of different settings. For example, you can rate the employee on customer service, training and mentoring others, interaction with senior management, and support to peers.
Unlike production numbers or sales volume, interpersonal skills are challenging, but not impossible, to measure. If you simply give a numerical rating without objective data, the employee can argue that the grade is unfair. Instead, rate the employee on behaviors that are observable and measurable. For example, under the job performance objective “Customer Service,” you can compare the number of complaints the employee received to the average number of complaints across your work unit. For “Interaction with Senior Management,” you can make statements about whether he kept management fully informed and how well-prepared and articulate he was in briefing supervisors.
Start by asking the employee for a written summary of her accomplishments during the rating period. Review her summary and select data to use in your evaluation. When you've completed your draft, give her a copy and schedule an appointment to discuss it. Make clear that this is only a draft and that you’d like her input. During the private discussion, listen with an open mind. Be ready to adjust your draft evaluation with the employee's additional input. If you don’t agree with her self-assessment or plea for a higher rating, offer her the opportunity to append employee comments to the evaluation so she feels her perspective is represented in the document.
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A retired federal senior executive currently working as a management consultant and communications expert, Mary Bauer has written and edited for senior U.S. government audiences, including the White House, since 1984. She holds a Master of Arts in French from George Mason University and a Bachelor of Arts in English, French and international relations from Aquinas College.