A Better Performance Evaluation

Love them or hate them, performance evaluations are the norm at the vast majority of companies.

walkway of airport

Their helpfulness depends upon the quality of the person assessing more than the form that gets filled out. If you don’t know how to identify areas of character and competence that need to be addressed to serve the person you are evaluating, then frankly the evaluation will be a check the box and perhaps painful process.

I’ve chosen to move beyond a classic performance evaluation and have set the bar of evaluation with this metric; Fighting for the highest possible good in ____________ (name of the employee). I call it a highest possible good session! I don’t wait for the annual mandatory performance evaluation to come in order to give encouraging and challenging feedback. In fact, here are the three steps I take when giving input to those around me;

(Prerequisite: You are genuinely for the person and have demonstrated that commitment over a period of time. If you are captive to envy and pride and out for yourself, stop reading as this won’t work.)

  1. I write the phrase “Highest Possible Good Session” at the top of a piece of paper. This frames my thinking about exactly what I’m about to do. For me, it is a sacred task as we are dealing with human beings with great value and worth. I communicate to the person that I am committed to serving them as best as I possibly can.
  2. I write the phrase “High Challenge” and start there: Here’s the deal, the typical evaluation conversation starts with the things they are doing well SO THAT you can slam them with what you really want to say. Wrong answer in my view, I prefer to bring challenge first. This takes away any hint of manipulation in the kind things I want to say, and also helps reframe challenge as a good thing. I write down the top 3-4 areas of character or competency I have identified that need some attention and I go there straightway in a conversational fashion.
  3. I write the phrase “High Support” and identify the unique contributions of the person. Having laid the foundation of challenge, this now feels like party time! Celebrate them in a way that they will value the most.

The effective delivery of support and challenge, when done from a healthy perspective will yield transformation. How does this challenge you? Any helps you have in giving or receiving employee feedback like this?


Editor’s note: We received so much positive feedback from this post, we are rerunning it as an encore today.