Reviewing Employee History before a Performance Evaluation

Reviewing employee history before a performance evaluation is a critical part of the appraisal process. When preparing for a performance appraisal meeting, one of the main determinants of the effectiveness of your appraisals is the quantity and quality of performance-based information that you gather. This information provides the foundation and support for the evaluations you create as well as for the feedback that you provide. If the information is thin or flimsy, the same will be said of your appraisals.

In any company, numerous resources can provide you with important performance-based data. Your notes on your employees’ performance are at the top of the list, but several resources beyond your notes provide additional insight into your employees’ performance — and give your evaluations additional impact.

Review last year’s appraisal

Assuming that your employees worked for you last year or worked for another manager in your company last year, another important early step is to take a look at last year’s evaluation. Presumably, that evaluation contained areas
in which the employees needed to demonstrate some improvement. Identify those areas, as well as possible sources of such deficiencies, and keep them in mind as you conduct this year’s evaluation.

For example, if a particular performance issue is interfering with an employee’s effectiveness, it would be very helpful
to know whether this is a new development or whether it’s a problem that was apparent last year. If this is a new development, you can address it in the performance evaluation and offer some strategies to correct it.

Review your notes

When you regularly spend time on the floors with your employees, you’re in the perfect position to observe their work and provide them with the coaching, feedback, guidance, and support that they need to do their jobs well. Your face time with them also allows you to gather data regarding all aspects of their performance.

Your notes don’t need to be a detailed treatise. They can be a list that includes the dates, a few words describing the incidents, and a few more words describing their impact. When the time for the annual evaluation arrives, these notes will provide you with accurate firsthand information regarding your employees’ performance during the entire course of the evaluation period.

If you rely on your memory for all this information, you probably won’t remember exactly what happened, when it happened, and who did what to whom, especially over the course of a year.

Reviewing the files

As part of the process of accessing and gathering a full range of information about your employees’ performance during the year, take a look at each employee’s file. The file can contain important pieces of performance-related data that can enhance as well as round out the information you’ve already assembled.

If other managers have work-related contact and dealings with your employees, you can gather additional information for the evaluations by discussing your employees’ performance with them. Don’t forget to ask your own manager.

Reviewing the evaluations

If your company’s appraisal process includes self-evaluations, or if you’ve opted to include them in the process, this is the time to look them over. The same applies to 360-degree feedback, if your company uses it. When reviewing your employees’ self-evaluations, the first step is to take a look at how your employees approached this assignment. Employees who are careful, thorough, and detailed in their approach to work will demonstrate these characteristics in the way that they complete their self-evaluations. At the same time, employees who are lackadaisical or careless will reflect these attitudes in this assignment.

If your company includes 360-degree feedback in the appraisal process, this is the time to review the findings. This data — gathered from an array of anonymous individuals, such as co-workers, managers, peers, customers, and others — can provide a good deal of additional insight regarding your employees’ performance competencies and effectiveness.

Regardless of its role in the appraisal process, if your company uses 360-degree feedback, it’s most helpful to bring the feedback into play when you’re establishing a development plan with your employees.

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