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Performance Management
Performance Evaluation Guidelines
Man and woman talking
Establishing and maintaining an effective performance evaluation system is important to an agency. A critical role of an agency Human Resource (HR) section is to help the agency select or create a useful evaluation system. 
 
Although State HR Policy 50.035.01 provides a model performance evaluation form, there is not a standard format for performance evaluation. Regardless of the evaluation tool or format an agency chooses, the evaluation should be honest, fair, respectful and meaningful. 
 
A performance evaluation or appraisal is a method of measuring an employee’s adherence to agency performance standards. The evaluation provides an employee with constructive feedback and performance expectations, helps the manager identify and record an employee’s strengths and areas for improvement, and sets goals for career development. The performance evaluation should tie into the overall mission and goals of the agency. The formal evaluation period covers one year. Informal evaluation is continuous. Employees on trial service benefit greatly from monthly evaluations. 
 
Some Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA’s) contain specific information about performance evaluations for represented employees.
 
The following are general guidelines to follow before, during and after writing the performance evaluation.
 
Before writing the evaluation:
  • Use or create some type of evaluation format. If the agency does not have a standard performance evaluation format, a narrative style, a rating scale or a combination of both could be used.
  • Consider various categories to evaluate, such as: production, team involvement and participation, meeting competencies of the unit, attendance, punctuality, completing paper work, customer response time, customer satisfaction, etc.
  • Obtain information from previous supervisors if the employee had more than one supervisor during the evaluation period.
  • Obtain input from the employee about their accomplishments, barriers and goals.
  • Gather input from partners or customers if useful.
  • Assemble all information into some type of order.
While writing the evaluation:
  • Describe behavior as objectively as possible. Avoid judging the behavior or making subjective observations. For example, “Dooley could do better if he put his mind to it,” or “Ethel is a really sweet person who means well.”
  • Avoid the use of common phrases that are vague and imprecise.  For example, “people person,” “goes above and beyond,” or “can’t cut the mustard.”
  • Avoid any reference or inference to any disability the employee may have.
  • Avoid words like never and always. 
  • Avoid any reference to any absences due to illness, worker’s compensation, or protected leaves such as Family and Medical Leave.
  • Avoid labels such as “good” or “bad” and avoid inflammatory words such as “gross” or “extraordinary.” These terms are difficult to defend in court.
  • Include both positive areas and areas needing improvement. Give specific examples of good and substandard employee performance, if applicable. Do not discuss other employees in the evaluation.
  • Mention any discipline that has been previously addressed with the employee during the reporting period. If an employee has not been informed of the discipline or serious performance issues, the evaluation is not the time to address it for the first time.
  • Include a signature line and a statement that indicates the employee’s signature means they have read and received a copy of the evaluation.
After the evaluation is written:
  • HR should review the performance evaluation and discuss it with the supervisor if necessary. Seek the appointing authority’s input.
  • The supervisor and the appointing authority must sign the evaluation. 
  • Schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss the performance evaluation. A performance evaluation is not a disciplinary document and a conference about it is not an investigatory meeting.
  • Present a copy of the performance evaluation to the employee. Give the employee time to read the evaluation. Answer any questions the employee may have.
  • Have the employee sign the evaluation and provide the employee with a copy.  
  • Place the signed evaluation in the employee’s personnel file.
  • Have the employee sign an updated position description at the same time. The supervisor and the appointing authority should sign the position description too.
  • If the employee disagrees with the evaluation, allow the employee to provide a written statement to place in the employee’s personnel file with the evaluation. Review the written statement provided by the employee to assess it for merit. The agency may change the performance evaluation based on the employee’s written statement.
  • If the employee refuses to sign, write on the signature line, “employee refused to sign.” Either initial or sign and date the statement. Have a second manager do the same.
 

 
Time Saving Tip
 
  Rather than waiting until performance evaluation time to compile the accomplishments and challenges of an employee for an entire year, drop a quick note into the supervisor working file each time something notable occurs. For those who prefer to keep electronic files, keep a running, electronic performance evaluation. Add a line to the performance evaluation under the appropriate category as the event occurs. The performance evaluation will almost be written when due!
 
 A few minutes here and there, saves hours in the long-run.