[September 26, 2014] Leadership means many things to a lot of people, but when we are doing “stuff” and making things happen we sometimes need help. Help can come from effective and useful tool established by other leaders. The Leadership Toolbox is being introduced here to find those tools that are most useful for the leader. In the past, I’ve written about “inspections” and how that can help us overcome complacency and procrastination (see link); inspections are just one example of an item in that toolbox. Formal “personnel evaluations” are another valuable item in the leadership toolbox.
Formalized evaluations, when used as a leadership tool, have two main purposes. First, evaluations help the organization succeed in its mission. This is done by providing additional motivation for and feedback to employees and their leaders. If done correctly through face-to-face meetings, evaluations are a great method to improve communications within an organization, provide the basis for setting goals, clarify leader expectations, and showcase mission assignments.
Second, evaluations can be used to help leaders determine who is performing to standard and those who are not. Decisions can be made to provide promotions and quality assignments or, conversely, to identify who needs additional training, reassignment, or their employment terminated. Evaluations should not be used as the single determining factor in any decision but when seen over a span of time, evaluations can provide a general trend of performance.
Evaluations geared to leader performance are the most important of all employee evaluations. They can be as simple as a measure of success in the organization’s mission. More complex to administer and interpret, senior leader evaluations are also necessary. Everyone, except perhaps the lowest employee, should receive a written evaluation at least annually for the evaluation to be useful. As expected, people can be rather anxious about them because they carry considerable weight in employee promotion, assignment, pay, and termination decision-making.
Development and administration of formal evaluations are big money. The best ones are constructed scientifically using psychological factors and a body of practical application. Evaluation models have been around for a while and actually well done. Using one of these models that has been tailored to your organization will provide a truer picture of employee performance. If formal evaluations are not being used, the leader should recommend it.
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