Nobody likes job evaluations. Bosses dread taking the time to document and employees get anxious wondering what their boss is going to say and hoping the news is good. The time spent in the evaluation meeting is usually a little nerve-wracking and can leave both boss and employee feeling awkward. So – why in the world would employers require an evaluation every year?
The purpose of an employee review program is to determine where you, as an employee, are right now in comparison of where the company believes you should be. And of course – the company believes you should be an effective member of their team contributing to either growing sales, decreasing costs or supporting someone who does one of those activities. The review is designed to help you understand if you are an effective member of the team and if not – how you can get there.
So – how does an employee score high on the evaluation? There’s no magic bullet and since there is some level of personal judgment in the process, the results can vary. However, there are some basic rules that are company and time independent.
Know the Rules
This is first and foremost. It doesn’t matter how fast you can type or how nice your customers think you are, if you continuously miss work, then you will probably get fired. Make sure to get a copy of the policies and procedures applicable to you. Learn what the absenteeism and tardiness rules are. Understand the code of conduct and make sure you can meet the dress code.
Know Your Goals
Take some time to read, in detail, your job description. You need to understand exactly what is expected of you in that specific position. For example, the job description for an inbound service representative may include some level of productivity goal in terms of calls per hour, an ability to talk calmly even if an irate customer is on the line and trouble cases resolved in a certain amount of time.
Other goals may be more specific to you. If you were told last year to work on handling more calls per hour, then you will need to make sure you meet those goals. Perhaps your boss mentioned getting additional training or cross-training in another department. These are not position goals, but are still goals that will be used to evaluate your performance.
Ask for It!
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. Perhaps you aren’t taking enough calls per hour because you’re having trouble using their software. If so – ask for additional training or to sit with someone who may know some helpful shortcuts. Oftentimes, the employee is the one who understands their own needs the best.
It’s also important to ask for feedback. Many bosses wait until the yearly evaluation to tell you how you’re doing. Unfortunately, this may often be too little too late. The fact is this: nothing revealed in the evaluation should ever be a surprise. So – if you’ve finished a big project and your boss isn’t pushing you to discuss it, ask for a short meeting to get his input. Go into the meeting expecting some constructive criticism and use it to grow professionally.
Another time to schedule that talk with your boss is when you’ve made a mistake. If you mess up, ‘fess up’ and be willing to put the time and effort into fixing the error. Showing you can learn from your mistakes will help you much more in the long run than trying to pretend you’re perfect.
Keep a Record!
Studies have shown that bosses have “recency” issues. Basically – that’s when the boss really only remembers what’s happened recently and may forget some great points that happened earlier in the year. No one’s perfect, so to help out your boss a little – keep a record that you can share close to evaluation time, reminding your boss of events that happened all year long.
Don’t write a book because no one will read it. The best way to make this work for you is to keep to short and simple bullet points. Record enough to jog his memory on older events, especially for those events that you did great on.
If you did miss a pretty big goal during that year and there’s really no way to hide it, take a little time to objectively state what happened and offer a few suggestions on lessons learned and what you should have done differently.
Another set of records to keep are the positive feedbacks you received during the year. Special “thank you” or accolades from customers, vendors or other business units can help show your value to the company.
Remember that companies have to be flexible. They must adapt to new competitor offerings, market fluctuations and local events. Not only does the company have to be flexible, but you – as their employee – should also be flexible. Goals may be set and within six months, things change and so may the goals. Understand that your boss’ goals may change as well and if you are willing to be flexible and help him meet his goals, a positive job evaluation becomes much easier for him.
Keep your eyes and ears open for new opportunities during the year. Be willing to pitch in and be positive about what change may bring. But, being flexible doesn’t mean being a doormat. There may be times you have to push back on unreasonable changes or requests, but remember to do so diplomatically and in the spirit of cooperation. A good example is if you’re asked to work 60 hours in one week because of a special project, you may say yes, but would like a comp day the next week.
Not only do you want your boss to know that you’re a team player, you also wish to gain his respect.
These are some pretty basic ways an employee can absolutely rock their next job evaluation. There is some subjectivity involved, but if the employee puts some time and thought into quantifying goals and highlighting their successes, it is much easier to score higher. One finale thought: an evaluation should always work both ways. Just as the boss is evaluating the employee to see if he meets the goals as expected, the employee should be evaluating to see if the position is a good fit for him. Employees should be able to expect a certain level of job satisfaction and by using the yearly evaluation time to reflect, he can better understand whether it’s a good place to remain or if it’s time to move on.