By Terry Corbell
The Biz Coach
Human Resources: 12 Errors to Avoid in Evaluations
If your company continues to cope with the sour economy, you might need to re-think approach to human resources.
A series of questions about what to do in human resources may be swirling around in your thought process. Bear in mind that wisdom and courage will be your best friends.
For example, there are four typical questions about HR in this uncertain economy.
So in this column, we’ll address the four typical questions plus include the 12 typical errors to avoid in employee evaluations:
When do I commence hiring?
The answer will not come for a while. The official word on when a recession starts or ends comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research. We will not hear from the organization for a long time. They are charged with declarations, not forecasts. The board did not timely and officially announce the last recession – after many of us in business had already been feeling the harmful effects of the downturn for more than a year.
We can conclude, however, consumer confidence will be a factor. Consumer demand will account for at least 50 percent of the anticipated economic expansion. But consumers – weary from being laid off and from all the unemployment reports – are likely to be very cautious. All indicators show it will be a jobless recovery.
If I have to lay off workers, can I include undesirable employees?
Well, to avoid any legal hassles, it is generally feasible with some provisos; so, consider these questions:
Do you have documentation explaining the business reasons for a layoff? Can you defend your process for selecting employees to layoff? Do you have written performance reviews or records of disciplinary actions?
Make sure your reasons are solid, especially if you want to refill a position, in order to avoid a potential claim of wrongful termination. Make certain that you properly deal with performance issues. You will also have to take precautionary steps to avoid morale issues with your retained workers.
Here’s a human resources case study from an economic downturn:
It was a complicated situation. I once had an elected public official as a client who was forced to lay off 10 percent of the agency’s workforce. My client, who was nearing the end of the term in office, was in turmoil facing an uphill battle for re-election. My client also was trying to cope with several poor performing employees including one worker with a history of being disciplined and who was particularly unproductive with a difficult personality. The employee became the opposing candidate.
My recommendations: Implement an empathetic-based reelection campaign, management training for supervisors, teamwork training for the staff, and include the troubled worker among the employees to be laid off. Before my client could implement the last recommendation, the troubled worker walked into my client’s office asking to be laid off. And what were the re-election results? A six percent winning margin.
What do I do if the economy suddenly improves?
Be prepared. Historically, many employees who do not have reasons to be loyal to an organization will want to work elsewhere. That’s mainly the workers who bide their time until the economy improves. So it is critical to evaluate what will motivate employees to stay and become high performers. Then, implement the appropriate measures to show your workers you care about their welfare. In addition, I am a big believer in employee development and training programs. If you fail to retain great workers, it will cost you in the long run.
How do I properly evaluate employees?
Short of providing you with my firm’s recommended employee-performance appraisal form, make sure you are careful to avoid errors in evaluations.
Here are the 12 salient errors to avoid:
- Insufficient information about employees and insufficient evaluation time. It is best to get to know employees well enough to accurately evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. Also, it is recommended that you to take the proper amount of time in the evaluation process for each employee.
- Inconsistent standards of excellence. Ineffective managers permit personal feelings to bias the evaluation process. Lack of uniform criteria from manager to manager can be detrimental to the organization and is why some employees are promoted when they should not – that is an indicator of The Peter Principle. Additionally, without safeguards, it is possible to become too friendly with some employees in making evaluations while being too critical with others.
- Failure to evaluate the entire performance period. Some employees, who are aware that a performance evaluation is due, will suddenly improve their work. In such annual reviews, many managers unfortunately look at the most recent behavior instead of the entire performance period. Throughout the year, when an employee does something noteworthy, immediately write it down; when the employee fails in a responsibility make note of it, too. Use good discretion in deciding whether to enter the information in the employee’s personnel file.
- Fear of bosses’ disapproval. Some managers are afraid to reveal derogatory information about employees to their bosses. They don’t want to admit that subordinates are ineffective. They often write or say what they think bosses want to hear about staff members, not what is accurate.
- The rainbow effect. When employees are popular, they are viewed as competent in their work. On the other hand, when employees are unpopular, they’re evaluated as inadequate.
- People-pleasing of employees. Apprehensive about possible confrontations, managers are often afraid to include unfavorable comments about employees – even when justified.
- Empire-building/maintaining job security. Such managers overlook employees’ weaknesses to gain favor with inefficient employees in order to develop allies among department staffers. To save their jobs, other managers will unfairly criticize workers as scapegoats and sacrificial lambs.
- Justification for employee wages. This is the practice of using unwarranted evaluations to justify decisions about employee salaries, such as giving complimentary reviews in advance of promotions and pay increases.
- Weak analytical ability/indecision. Some raters lack analytical ability. Others, because of favoritism, simply are unable to make objective judgments about some employees.
- Middle-curve analysis. There is a tendency by some managers to stick to the middle or average and they do not accurately evaluate employees – they erroneously stick to the middle – average performance grades in every category.
- Denial syndrome. Some managers make excuses and remain in denial about worker performance.
- Irrelevant factors. Bias of non job-related factors, such as physical appearance or social standing, sometimes erroneously influences evaluations of employees. Beware that some employees are good at selling themselves. Well-intentioned bosses also often give shy people too much benefit of doubt for fear of hurting their feelings.
Finally, remember that every employee is entitled to hear the answers to three questions: 1. What’s expected of me? 2. How am I doing? 3. What’s in it for me?
From the Coach’s Corner, here more HR resource articles:
- Human Resources: The Future of Performance Reviews
- HR Management – 8 Best Practices in Employee Delegation
- 13 Management Tips to Solve Employee Absenteeism
- Are HR Departments to Blame for a Talent Crisis?
- Strategies: If a Valued Employee Wants a Raise, and Money’s Tight
“You can’t expect your employees to exceed the expectations of your customers if you don’t exceed the employees’ expectations of management.”
Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.