Employee Evaluations: Getting a “Kick Start”

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Of all of the tasks required of a supervisor, writing Employee Evaluations is one we hear most often dreaded. Some of the typical complaints we hear are:

  • “I don’t know where to start.”
  • “There are employees that have worked here for years and there is nothing new for them.”
  • “I have several to do at a time and by the end, they all start looking the same.”

Most supervisors have been there…blank employee evaluations staring back at you just waiting to be completed. It’s only marginally better if it’s electronic. You know the benefit of annual evaluations, yet they just keep being placed further back on the burner. Inspiration can be difficult to come by at the end of a long day, and often a kick start can help with the “blank page (or screen) syndrome.”

First, try requesting the assistance of the employee in his/her evaluation.

Provide a form, format, or questions to think about and ask for input for his/her future goals. It may take some coaching to get a contribution if the employee has never been asked this in the past. Even if what you receive isn’t feasible, at least the employee has had the opportunity to participate in the process and it allows prime time for discussing what will work.

Align employee development goals with overall company objectives.

How can they contribute? Do they know when they are successful? Give people the chance to demonstrate their worth, and then allow them to do so. This one step can reinforce the first and set the stage for the following year’s review.

Use a list of “starter words” or thought stimulators.

Sometimes the use of a verb can generate a new thought pattern and cause the goal statement to flow more easily. Here’s a short list of these “starter words” that focus on behavior:

Develop Create Starts Works Makes
Produces Meets Exceeds Needs Train
Improve Initiates Solves Coordinate Adapts
Demonstrate Review Clarify Maintain Understand


Finally, each year’s evaluation is a chance to restart.

You can begin a more disciplined process of balanced documentation of employee’s behavior, both positive and constructive. This should help develop a system of ongoing evaluation in which feedback and documentation are a daily, weekly, or monthly process; not just an annual event. The results of an employee evaluation should never be a surprise to the employee.

Remember that each employee is unique and deserves a fair, personalized evaluation. Create a plan that unites personal and corporate objectives and begin the next employee evaluation cycle on a positive note.

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