Holiday parties aren’t the only thing your employees are buzzing about this time of year – ‘tis the season for year-end performance evaluations! Performance evaluations, when used properly, are a powerful tool for constructive feedback and support for favorable and adverse personnel actions. Below are the tips employers should keep in mind when completing performance evaluations:

Honesty is the Best Policy

Supervisors should be honest in performance reviews and not simply rate an employee as “meets expectations” to avoid confrontation. If there is a performance area that needs improvement, the evaluator should take this opportunity to inform the employee and provide guidance on how to improve.  Sugar coating now leads to disagreements and disputes when the company later wants to terminate or deny promotion.

Be Specific

Evaluations should include specific examples of where the employee failed to expectations as well as how the employee excelled. For example, if an employee had issues completing work in a timely manner, the evaluation should include specific examples of deadlines the employee failed to meet.  Simple forms could identify “agrees of strength” and “areas for improvement” and explain each such rating.  If the review focuses solely on problems areas, it may be a “turn off” because the employee may view the review as “papering” the file.  Proposing how the employee can improve may result in noticeable change and can help support a defense later on that the company was trying to help, not discriminate.

Don’t Forget About The First Half of the Year

One of the most common mistakes supervisors make in the evaluation process is focusing on the most recent projects/events. An accurate evaluation, however, should evaluate performance during the entire review period. Be sure to look back at the employee’s work performance from the beginning of the year and include feedback that covers the full review-period.

This Is Not a Surprise Party

Supervisors should provide employees feedback throughout the year. Problematic behavior should be addressed at the time it occurs so the employee has the opportunity to correct any issue before it appears on the year-end performance evaluation.