The 9-Step Checklist for Evaluating and Improving Employee Performance

Did you know that that only about 30% of U.S. employees are engaged at work? It’s true: Recent data from a Gallup poll shows that nearly two-thirds of workers are not invested in the work they’re doing.

That’s a pretty high percentage, don’t you think?

The good news is that there is a clear path toward improving those numbers within your organization.

Using this checklist, you can start evaluating and improving employee performance and boosting engagement rates at the same time. Why? Because clear communication and regular feedback go hand in hand with happy, productive employees.

Let’s get started.

1. Schedule Regular Performance Reviews

Employees want to hear how they’re doing on a regular basis, not just whenever you remember to think about it. That’s why it’s important to schedule on-going performance reviews that occur at regular intervals. Not only does this help you make time for reviews within your hectic schedule, but it allows the employee to prepare for the review, too. Ask your employee to write down a few things he/she is proud of at work from the past year, as well as a few areas for needed improvement.

You can conduct these reviews on a monthly, quarterly, biannually or annual basis, but remember: Consistent feedback will help improvement happen much more quickly. Think about how often your processes and organization changes, and then decide how often you need to check in with your team.

2. Document Employee Milestones & Mishaps

In order to conduct effective performance reviews, you need reliable notes to pull from. That means keeping files on each individual employee with documentation on both milestones and mishaps that occur throughout the year. Take time to make note of major employee achievements, goals met, training completed, and positive customer comments as well as any disciplinary action taken or areas in which the employee needs improvement.

With everything you have to remember on a daily basis, it can be tough to keep track of an employee’s day to day performance, so these notes will be a lifesaver when employee evaluations roll around. Plus, these documents help keep a physical record that will provide legitimacy should the time come when you have to fire an employee.

3. Create a Standard Evaluation

You’ll want each employee to receive the same standardized evaluation so there’s an equal playing field for all. To do this, you’ll need to put together paperwork that helps you maintain consistency for each and every employee you review.

To get started, think about including templates like this Performance Review Document, an employee information form, and a standard Job Description Form. You could also include an employee survey to gather internal feedback and keep the communication flowing from both directions.

Keep your questions standard for all of your performance reviews, but always be sure to leave time at the end for an open-ended discussion about what’s working and what’s not.

4. Gather & Review Necessary Documents

Before each and every employee evaluation, you should take a moment to get all of the documents you’ll need pulled together and to review them so you’re prepared to meet with your team member.

Don’t wait until the day of to scan through your notes–schedule time to sit down and really study the documentation so you have a clear picture of what feedback you’ll give at the end of your review.

5. Conduct Face-to-Face Employee Evaluations

According to the Harvard Business Review, face-to-face evaluations are highly stressful for employees and managers–but meeting in this context creates an opportunity for a conversation focused specifically on improvement. Sit-down conversations like these mean eliminating distractions that pull at your attention: You have slotted time to focus on employee development.

For highly effective employee evaluations, you should be meeting face-to-face with employees for at least 15 minutes. This helps ensure there’s enough time to cover all of the items on your evaluation form and leaves time for conversation at the end.

6. Offer Feedback and Recommendations

It’s likely that after your evaluations have wrapped, you’ll need to share both positive and negative feedback to your individual team members–but this is the information they need to truly improve and grow within their roles.

To make this part as painless as possible, remember to be clear, to focus on specific issues, to share specific observations, and to always provide actionable takeaways that establish a path to improvement. This might mean some ongoing training, pairing an employee with a mentor, or even re-visiting some past on-the-job training.

Finish up on a positive note by commending your employee on the things he or she has done well. Focus on specific achievements rather than generalized comments like “keep up the good work.” Touch on the tasks he or she does well and the positive qualities you’ve noticed. It matters: 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized.

7. Oversee Peer to Peer Evaluations

Peer-to-peer evaluations give your employees a voice, and is a chance for you to learn things you may be missing from the manager position. Plus, feedback from peers helps build a more cohesive team that works well together. It also adds legitimacy to the evaluation process, because feedback is not just coming from the top down.

This is also a great way for you to find out which team members are really going above and beyond. Ask employees to nominate a top performer, and formally recognize those employees with programs like Employee of the Month or morale-boosting rewards (like a bonus, paid time off, or flexible scheduling.)

8. Schedule Ongoing Training

Once you’ve identified the areas in which each employee needs to improve, it’s important to schedule training opportunities that empower them to do so. Not only does training help develop employees you can eventually promote, but it makes them feel more valued and confident about their skills and abilities.

We recommend using the ADDIE method for training programs that are starting from scratch, but you should also consider existing programs that can be completed via eLearning or in person. Whichever route you choose, make sure your employees have the right tools and enough availability to dedicate their full attention to training (so they’re not wasting valuable company time.)

9. Reward Positive Performance

Once your employee evaluations have wrapped up, remember to celebrate a job well done by rewarding your team. If your team has reached a major milestone or performed particularly well this go around, think about offering some inexpensive celebratory rewards. That might be a drawing for a prize package, a night out for dinner as a team, a membership to a gym–you name it. Survey your team to find out what perks would be most appealing to them and consider rotating the employee-chosen rewards for each round of evaluations.

The reason for on-going employee reviews is to both evaluate and improve your team’s skills, so make sure they know why you feel this exercise is so important. It shows your investment in them and helps build value and trust at work.

With this checklist and the nine steps outlined here, you’ll be on the path to creating a team that’s more motivated, better trained, and works at a highly efficient level. That often means less turnover and more long-term relationships, which is never a bad thing. Start using this checklist before your next employee review, and get organized for a more effective process overall.

About the author:

Chad-HalvorsonChad Halvorson is the Founder & CEO of When I Work. When I Work is an employee scheduling app that more than 30,000 businesses and over half a million people rely on for employee scheduling, time clock, and communication. When I Work uses an innovative blend of collaborative communication technologies, including the web, mobile apps, text messaging, social media, and email, to make businesses more efficient, more accountable, and better prepared.

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