Many managers and employees dread assessment meetings. But why is that? Among other things, because it’s not easy for supervisors to say things straight, especially in situations where the employee is underperforming, just like it’s hard for employees to hear difficult truths.
Here are a few tips to make it easier.
Express your expectations clearly
People often forget to communicate their expectations. It is, however, the foundation of any performance management approach, because it allows employees to direct their efforts in line with expected outcomes and behaviours. What’s more, it eliminates surprises, because employees will know on what criteria their work will be evaluated
Provide employees with their job description and the assessment form that will be used, and have an introductory discussion. You can get employees to help setting out expected results, if you wish. That way they will be more likely to accept the assessment criteria since they aren’t being imposed.
At this phase it’s also important to tell employees what methods will be used to determine if they meet their expectations. It might be by calculating a percentage of increased sales, or by observing specific behaviours (such as understanding client requirements before proposing solutions).
Assessment meetings should never hold any surprises for employees. They are a valuable opportunity for managers to spend one-on-one time with their employees to discuss various subjects in greater depth, such as their competencies and their objectives, and to take stock of the assessment period that just ended. Give ongoing feedback throughout the assessment period.
Prepare all year long
A year can go by fast, especially when you supervise several employees. Take notes for each employee, briefly recording their wins as well as areas needing improvement. Keep in mind that you should have given verbal feedback for every note you take. You will be able to refer back to these notes when you complete employee assessment forms.
Take the time you need to properly complete the assessment
Before completing an employee assessment form, make sure you read over the previous assessments. When filling out the form, keep in mind that you need to discuss concrete, observable behaviours or events at work rather than personality traits.
Get ready to discuss both strengths and weaknesses, anticipate questions or concerns, and think about some objectives that you can set with the employee.
Choose a suitable location and time
Establish a meeting time with the employee well in advance. Pick a location where you can talk without being interrupted. Turn off your phone and other electronic devices (unless you’re using them for the meeting). The ideal place is a small room with a round table.
During the meeting
Even though many people are nervous about assessment meetings, try to see them as a way to converse with your employees.
Like your favorite book, the meeting will include an introduction (break the ice), development (review strengths and shortcomings, career goals, training, etc.) and a conclusion (recap the assessment, agree on objectives and ensure that your agreement is well understood by both parties). Keep an open mind to your employees’ points of view and leave space for discussion. These meetings should be based on facts rather than subjective impressions.
After the meeting
Following the meeting, work with employees to come up with a development strategy going forward. This can be done through training, job shadowing with an experienced colleague, mentoring, coaching, assigning new responsibilities, and so on. The action plan should also include targets so you can determine at the end of the next assessment period whether improvement has actually taken place.
Follow up on the targets and your agreement regularly throughout the assessment period, and remember to give ongoing feedback!
These simple tips encourage communication and relieve apprehension on both sides. You’ll see the benefits if you adopt them. In addition, it is important to remember that a properly implemented assessment process enhances employee engagement. All the more reason to give it the importance it deserves.
We wish you success!