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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

EVALUATING EMPLOYEES AND MANAGEMENT

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

- Two valuable forms for evaluating both management and the workers.

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Employee Evaluations

It has long been customary in business to periodically evaluate employee performance, such as 30 days after hiring, or at regular intervals, such as annually or bi-annually. The purpose is to have the manager assess the employee's strengths and weaknesses, and make recommendations for improvement. Such analysis can represent a source of consternation, particularly if it is a negative review, but the intent is to help the employee improve as a worker as opposed to assassinate his character. Reviewing an employee with malicious intent is just plain wrong, as is giving a rosy review, both are detrimental to communicating to the employee where they stand in the eyes of management and how they can improve themselves.

A variety of "Employee Evaluation Forms" have been devised over the years to document the review. We have used the same form for many years and have found it to be particularly useful (you can download it HERE). There are two ways of implementing the form; first, by having the manager prepare the form and review it with the employee. The second, it to have both the manager and employee complete separate copies of the form and compare the two. Inevitably, a disparity in the answers will emerge which will differentiate the manager's perspective versus the employee's. I personally prefer the latter approach and recommend it to my clients as it will cause the employee to think about the discrepancies.

I consider an "Employee Evaluation Form" an essential management tool regardless of the type or size of company, large or small. Such forms are also useful for keeping you out of employment lawsuits. If you prepare the form properly, and have the employee sign it to acknowledge its contents, the employee can never claim he/she was unaware a problem existed when terminated.

I admonish employees not to take the employee evaluation personally. Regardless of what the manager says, learn from the experience, and do not dismiss it as irrelevant. It is one of the few times you can have a heart-to-heart talk with your boss on the record.

Management Evaluations

Recognizing the benefits of the employee/manager comparison I devised a similar form to evaluate management, a "Management Evaluation Form." If the employee is willing to succumb to a personal evaluation of his/her job performance, it seems reasonable to have the employees evaluate management thereby representing a "bottom-up" approach for evaluating a particular manager or management in general. Such a concept though is somewhat avant-garde and controversial in the world of business, but I think a good one. Not long ago, I reported on a recent Gallup study entitled, "Why Great Managers Are So Rare." In it, Gallup found companies pick the wrong person as manager a whopping 82% of the time. So the need exists to consider the manager's abilities.

Like the employee version, the "Management Evaluation Form" should be performed routinely, but on a confidential basis. If you ask employees to identify themselves, it is unlikely an accurate analysis will be prepared as workers will tend to flatter the boss, as opposed to criticize, in fear for their jobs. As such, it defeats the purpose of the analysis. Therefore, they should be prepared anonymously, preferably with an outsider who has no axe to grind and can guide them through the evaluation. Under no circumstances should the employees be tricked into submitting an evaluation with secret embedded codes which will reveal their identity. This violates the confidentiality and ultimately severs trust between workers and management. After the forms are summarized, they are destroyed to prevent the analysis of handwriting.

As in the employee version, the "Management Evaluation Form" is intended to provide sincere feedback to management for improving management and the work environment. It certainly should not be used as a form of payback. The form includes questions aimed at defining the manager's style of management, his/her ability to motivate people, the corporate culture, and the manager's ability to get things done. It considers such things as leadership, ethics, fairness, professionalism, housekeeping, personal appearance, knowledge of business and industry, and much more.

If a particular manager is being evaluated, he/she is asked to complete the form as well to define how they perceive their skills. This will be used for comparative purposes. After the forms have been completed, I summarize them and review the results with either the manager or the company management in general. Either way, the results prove to be most illuminating and causes management to rethink their policies and procedures. In some cases, it helps determine the need for additional management training. This analysis is useful for unearthing problems before they arise and provides management with an opportunity to address them. At the very least, management will understand the mood of the employees. It's just plain good business to understand your management capabilities.

The response to the "Management Evaluation Form" has been positive. Given a good understanding of the purpose of the form and resulting analysis, this becomes as beneficial as the "Employee Evaluation Form," maybe more so as it tends to promote trust between management and workers.
 

Both forms are valuable management tools for improving the corporate culture, the employee, and the manager. Again, I admonish the subject of the evaluation to take a cool and careful look at the results and try to put it in perspective. Do not get angry if the results do not turn out as you expected, as they usually do not. Instead, try to understand why the answers were different and how you can improve yourself.

If you are interested in trying the "Management Evaluation Form," please do not hesitate to contact me for consulting.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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  - Documentation is a working tool and a byproduct of design. - Bryce's Law

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