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I have some good news for you:


You matter big time!


Of course you knew that! But what I’m getting at, is that you matter big time in regard to the amount of love your reports feel for their job.

As the old saying goes:

‘Employees don’t leave their company. They leave their manager.’ >>Tweet that!

If the negative is true, so is the positive. The amount of energy team leaders and managers put into their people has a huge impact on their employee’s work.

Also, as motivation expert dr. Bob Nelson says: an employee’s motivation is a direct result of the sum of interactions with her manager.

Not only the amount of interactions matters, the quality of the interactions is essential.

So, today I want to take a closer look at one of the most important types of interactions between managers and employees: the renowned employee performance evaluation.


Why do official employee performance evaluations?

I realize you and many others might think of performance evaluations as too official to be of any worth. One of the reasons for that, I believe, is the fact that in many companies both manager and employee hide behind a performance review template, preventing them to engage in a meaningful conversation.

Please here me out, because I know employee evaluations can be really valuable to everyone concerned.

To function effectively as a manager, it’s absolutely necessary to build strong bonds with the members of your team. You’re probably aware of that, so you’re talking with them regularly about ongoing work. That’s absolutely great!

But: in these you’re probably only discussing the day-to-day stuff, at least, that’s what I used to do. I never got around to the topics that need a more in-dept approach, like someone’s place in the team, the way you two work together and his development since he’s started on your team.

And those are exactly the kind of things you want to talk about in a employee performance evaluation!


So how to go from here?

Most large companies have an official procedure for evaluation and reviews (that’s the type of conversation where money is concerned). Most small ones don’t. I recommend starting a yearly round of official evaluations if you’re in a small company and – in either case – get the most out of them by making them GREAT!

This is how you do that:

Having great employee evaluations is simple, just follow these guidelines:


* Realize it’s a two-way stream.

Evaluations aren’t meant for you to dump your opinions on your report. They’re meant to have a meaningful conversation about your employee’s performance and how to unlock their full potential. Both of you have an invaluable input and role in that.

Also prepare to ask for (and receive gracefully) feedback from your report on your performance.

Or is that just the Dutch way of doing things? – If so: I would strongly recommend everyone in a leadership position to ask for feedback regularly: it shows courage and it’s a great opportunity to grow!

* Prepare yourself –but not too much

Prepare for the conversation by thinking about your reports work, results and their role in the team. Consider if anything has to change.

But: do not prepare to the level that you’re thinking about what to say exactly and what the results of the conversation have to be. You’ll end up just sending your message instead of having a real meeting of minds.

* Realize that there’s always more then meets the eye

Try hard to keep yourself from doing all the talking. Instead, motivate your report to connect to their motives & convictions and help them challenge those. Ask questions, listen, summarize and ask follow-up questions. Try to be open: ask for ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’. In this case it’s best to not start with the ‘why’, because that’s often a bit threatening to people. You’re immediately asking for deeper motives and that can block them. Read about open, truthful communication to get a few more tips on how to do this or let me help you directly.

* Be official, but not too official

Yes! Very contradictive, I know. But what I mean is this: you should be aware of the rules of the game (meaning the rules and laws that surround employee rights in your country), without limiting yourself to a questionnaire. A template can help you: use it as checklist to make sure you covered everything at the end. If you follow it too strict though, you’ll end up talking like a computer and that won’t benefit the vibe of openness and trust a conversation like this benefits from.

Do ask your report to write a summary of the conversation. Get it signed & filed. This will work as a check to see if your messages were received the way they were intended.

* Don’t be scared for disagreements or a little pain here and there.

Let me say this: you cannot be happy with someone all the time. As a rule, tell people that you’re not happy at the moment it’s happening. But the evaluation is a good moment to discuss things that went wrong in a broader perspective (mind you: only if there is one!).

If you don’t confront people on things that aren’t going well, you’re withholding them the opportunity to improve. >> Tweet that!
I’ll get into how to do difficult conversations in a few weeks.
>> sign up below so you won’t miss that one!
So there you have it! A set of 5 (yes, again 5!) guidelines to help you through your official evaluations.
Try it out, connect with your reports and let me know in the comments below how you’re doing!


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