Evaluations May Be A Problem

Published February 8, 2012

One of my employment workplace pet peeves are evaluations improperly done. The problem all started with the employee manual. Someone, way back when, put a clause in the manual that stated that evaluations would be performed every year in January. This got copied by other companies and pretty soon this clause was in numerous manuals.

So what is wrong with this, you ask? There are two problems. Let me explain.

Problem One

Many times the Company gets busy and no one remembers to do the evaluations or the evaluations are done sporadically, if at all. For example, an employee gets fired. The employee, in his wrongful discharge case, complains that he was never evaluated. He claims he was discriminated against because of his religion. The Company says it was his performance. The Employee counters that he was never evaluated and the manual said he would be. Failing to perform an evaluation isn't against the law, but juries don't like it if your manual requires it and you don't do them.

Problem Two

The Company performs employee evaluations each year. The supervisor knows employee Sally has performance issues, but since he doesn't want to hurt Sally's feelings, he gives her a good evaluation. He may even check the excellent box. As an arbitrator, I see cases where the Company states the employee had performance problems and the employee points out the excellent evaluations she has received. You can see the problem.

Someone came up with the idea that employees should evaluate themselves and some companies do these types of evaluations. I think this is a crazy idea. What employee is going to admit they have faults? I don't see what the self evaluation does except make more work for the supervisor.

You don't have to do written evaluations. Yes, it is true. If you want to do them, make sure your supervisors are trained on how to do motivating evaluations. Most supervisors have no guidance concerning this. This is why one supervisor may be very critical with his employees and another supervisor, in the same company, may be very lenient. This is a problem. Train your supervisors to give constructive criticism without undermining the employee's spirit. Teach them that a false or overrated positive evaluation creates more problems for the Company. Teach them that it is important to be honest in a kind way, without creating a false impression.

An alternative to evaluations is to give written warnings and write-ups when needed. When the employees do a good job, praise them.

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