Performance Anxiety: Making Evaluations Comfortable

Performance evaluations for employees can be a pretty uncomfortable task, especially if the evaluation is unfavorable. A lot of managers would rather avoid them altogether but that’s not an option. Luckily, there are ways to make these meetings less tense for both sides.

According to Barbara Mitchell and Cornelia Gamlem in “The Big Book of HR,” performance evaluation meetings need to be given top priority by managers. They should be treated with the same importance as any other business meeting, such as a discussion with the CEO or clients. It is imperative to be as prepared as possible and to not sound scripted.

    It’s often the actual meeting rather than the preparation that gives managers headaches. Mitchell and Gamlem offered 10 tips to make these important meetings have their desired effect:

  • Create a positive, communicative environment.
  • Schedule the meeting several days in advance to allow you and the employee ample opportunity to prepare what you both want to say.
  • Be sure to allow enough time for the meeting.
  • Select a meeting place that is both comfortable and quiet. Arrange your schedule so that you won’t be interrupted.
  • Always begin the meeting by providing positive feedback. Point out specific accomplishments, noting how they have contributed to the organization’s mission.
  • Emphasize problem-solving and concentrate on future actions that can be taken in any areas that need improvement.
  • Concentrate on the employee’s behavior and performance and the consequences to the individual and the nonprofit. Avoid discussing motivation and personal issues.
  • Remember to have dialogue. Always allow the employee the opportunity to discuss the person’s feelings and reactions to your input and feedback.
  • If there are areas that need improvement, encourage the employee to come up with potential solutions.
  • If the employee has any disagreements, give the person the opportunity to talk. Listen without arguing or being defensive.