How Would Employees Evaluate You?

Are you someone who wants to get better at developing yourself or other employees?

Are you a supervisor who wants to improve your supervisory skills?

Perhaps you are a worker-bee who just thinks your supervisor needs to get a clue?

No matter where your position is found in the chain-of-command, when managers do the right things, performance appraisals become easier to prepare and more comfortable to discuss. Surprises and tribulations are kept to a minimum for everyone involved!

Here are some simple suggestions to help you get high (or higher) marks from your employees:

  • Walk your talk. If you want respect, you have to earn it. For your opinion to count, you have to say what you mean and mean what you say. When you mess up, admit it. The same holds true when others mess up; deal with it at the time. If you’re trying to improve someone’s performance or correct behavior, talk to those staff members privately throughout the year! That way, when appraisal season rolls around, you won’t be hauling out those private, employee folders you keep tucked away in your desk to dump out all those scrap notes for the first time (you know … the ones you just tossed in there during the year) so you can pour them into a performance appraisal! Supervisors who like to pull that stunt, only do so if they want to remind everyone that they’re the boss; it’s also the best way for them to destroy any hard-earned respect they’ve earned.

  • View each position as unique and assess every employee individually. You don’t want Stepford employees, do you? Think of your employees as protégés, each with unique and specific talents and needs. Develop what they have; give what they need. And do it at intervals throughout the year that suit the needs of each employee.
    Jobs are also different. They may have the same position descriptions, but the person incumbent to the job is different and that makes their jobs different from the others. Use criteria that make sense for each job, taking into account the specific talents and skills that you want to develop in each of your protégés.
  • Don’t compare employees. The Number One pitfall to avoid is rank-ordering employees. Not only is rank ordering extremely subjective, it’s a trust killer! And the respect you’ve worked so hard to earn will be a goner in one fell swoop.
    Instead, try this: at the beginning of each performance year, ask your employees to write down some measurable goals they want to achieve. For example, if an employee had “x” number of positive client/customer comments last year they may want to set next year’s goal at “2x”. Do the same for each employee in areas where one’s performance points to an area that needs improvement. If your agency has a mission plan, it’s probable they also have a strategic plan with measurable goals for each year. Use this to examine the tangible elements of employee performance.
  • Talk about employee potential and discuss areas for needed improvement … don’t focus on fault. If you are truly interested in each protégé’s growth and development, you also have ideas about how they can get better at what they do. This includes intangible areas like attitude and teamwork. Did you know that even intangibles can be measured? For example, if you believe one’s attitude about a project needs improvement, the tangible measure might involve the number of positive contributions the employee shares during project meetings. Remember, the point of performance appraisals is to get the manager and the employee to work together so both parties can get better at what they do.
  • Stay current with performance appraisals, even if awards or salary increases don’t depend on them. The reasoning here ties back to the purpose of performance appraisals: for calling attention to areas of stellar performance and areas where improvement is needed. Employees need and deserve feedback, whether or not there’s an underlying reward awaiting justification.

  • Place a high value on the formal assessment process. Do appraisals on time and with ample notice to everyone. Employees are smart; they often read behavior better than regulations! If you postpone or call for reviews without a moment’s notice, the message that you send is that the process is either not important, it’s a necessary “evil” in the workplace, or worse yet … your intended sincerity about the process will be read as “phony”. Giving priority to the process makes it a priority and helps give credibility and value to employees.

  • Make appraisals a partnership. Does your supervisor see and know about every success you attain? Managers who delude themselves by thinking they actually see their staff perform their jobs because they may see the product of their work, are also people who live in La-La Land. How did someone get to that work product? Did they step on toes to get there or did they charm the pants off people who are otherwise very difficult to work with? Besides that, do your employees really want their manager keeping a keen eye on their every mood and move? Enjoin your staff to help with their appraisals! Plan out what you want to address and ask each person to give you information relevant to those areas. Partnering with each other facilitates cooperation at appraisal time.
  • Evaluate what’s important. Pay attention to important issues, even if they’re difficult to measure. For example, how one examines interpersonal skills can be measured easily by the number of complaints against a person but does that really support your assessment that the employee needs to work on interpersonal skills? Perhaps surveying other departments about their impressions of each of your protégés will give you some better information. Measuring intangible performance may be difficult but avoid using measures may only come about by the most extreme experiences.

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Scott Horvath

One of things I took upon myself was creating an online survey which asked my colleagues for their unrestricted opinion on my work. Some people call it a 360 survey, but I just created my own in my own style. I asked questions which gave them the ability to not only rate how they viewed my work ethics and performance from their viewpoint, but also asked about their opinion on my personality traits and the type of person they perceived me to be. It was completely anonymous and had no way of knowing who submitted each survey. But it was certainly an eye opener.

Many of the open-ended responses I had expected. I feel as if I have a good idea of my weaknesses and strengths and areas where I know that I can improve. But some responses I hadn’t expected. It’s often hard for someone to step back from themselves and take an honest look at how their actions, work performance, etc affect others around them. It can also be a nerve-racking experience if you receive responses that are completely the opposite of what you think. But if you can create a survey of that type, and take the responses with an open mind, then you can find ways to make some positive change in your work life.

I have tried to address some of the things that were brought up…and it’s hard. I’m still working on them. But I’m certainly grateful for those responses.

Doris Tirone

Great approach Scott! It is quite difficult to step back and take an objective look at ourselves; it requires us to accept that we’re fallable coupled with the desire to do something to improve on those fallacies. Have you experienced any noticeable improvements based on changes you’ve made from this feedback? Here are a few additional tips from other GovLoop members that might enlighten and improve one’s rapport with your employees: Burning Question: What do you wish your boss did?.


This is great. Honestly, performance appraisals are always hard to do well. As someone who has both received and given them, I think they work best when it is relatively straight-forward and used to talk about how we can work together to improve their career (and performance at job).