4 Tips for Effective Employee Evaluations

4 Tips for Effective Employee Evaluations

Why are employee evaluations met with such anxiety for the employee and the manager performing them? I believe it’s because of the way that they traditionally were performed. The manager would have a laundry list of items that the employee can improve upon and felt required to discuss just those items and create goals on how to change their behavior. An evaluation set up like this is doomed to fail from the beginning. In today’s society and especially in the tree care industry, it is imperative to support your employees and help them develop as a person, to truly gain their trust and loyalty to the company. Below are my 4 tips to restructuring your employee evaluations to help maximize the relationship with your team members.

Plan for & Prepare Ahead of Time – Evaluations should never be done spur of the moment. The employees will always feel a little bit of fear before an evaluation, however, scheduling it in advance and letting them know what you will be discussing goes a long way towards having a productive meeting. Make sure that you take notes on their performance throughout the year to supplement the conversation that pops up. Do this by keeping a list of positive and negative behavior that you or the crew leader have noticed throughout the year. The more concrete examples you can use to reinforce the right attitude you are looking for the more accepting the employee will be of the process.

Don’t Call it a Review – Unfortunately, the word ‘review’ carries a negative connotation with it. When an employee hears that they will be having an employee review, a wave a panic almost always will sweep through their body. This puts them into a defensive position and mindset that will be counterproductive to the goals of the meeting. At my agency, we call it a check point. For us, a checkpoint is a time for both the manager and the employee to formally check in with each other. We ask the employee to grade themselves on their proficiency or comfortability levels within their technical skills/knowledge, their customer interaction skills and overall company goals. We then ask how we can help them improve within these categories.

Engage the Employee – This should be a discussion between both parties, not a lecture by the manager. Give the employee a series of questions before the meeting to give them the chance to participate in the conversation. Be as specific as you can for their position. For instance questions for a climber could include:

  • What is your comfort level with different climbing techniques (SRT vs. DRT)?
  • What additional skill or piece of equipment would you like to develop competency in?
  • What is the largest challenge that you face each day and how can we make that better for you?
  • If you were CEO for a day, what would you do different?

Once a Year is NOT Enough – While performing multiple employee evaluations throughout the year may seem like overkill, just doing one of them is not nearly enough. In this industry where turnover is such a huge issue, consistent feedback from the employee is vital to their happiness and success. Make employee evaluations a quarterly priority for both sides. It will open up communication even greater within your company and gives you a pulse of how that employee is doing so they don’t take another job without you having some indication.

Additionally, a few things you definitely want to avoid in an employee evaluation are:

  • Making promises that you can’t keep regarding employee development or pay.
  • Making comparisons between employees.
  • Pretending to have all of the answers and not being open to suggestions for improvement.

Lastly, think back to when you were an employee, I’m sure you wanted to know how you were doing and what you can improve upon. More importantly, you wanted to know that your employer was truly interested in your individual success. If you succeed in promoting each employee’s individual success, you will see these employee evaluations transform your business in a short time.

Eric Petersen

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