Whether or not you believe in making New Year’s resolutions, there’s something about the year coming to a close that triggers a need for reflection and assessment. What did you accomplish over the past year? What did you learn? Where do you see gaps or the need to change or improve? The holiday season is all about celebrating, spending time with loved ones, and appreciating those aspects of our personal lives for which we are thankful and grateful. Why shouldn’t we do the same in our professional lives? After all, your co-workers, your employees, your boss(es) are all part of your successes.
If you’re a business owner or manager, how do you acknowledge and express your appreciation for your employees, the people who carry out your mission daily? Larger companies often rely on a formal performance review process to evaluate employees. Top producers are recognized and rewarded with raises or year-end bonuses. Underperformers are motivated and equipped to do better.
In the North Bay, however, 80 percent of businesses are small employers with fewer than 50 employees. We have a reputation for incubating successful, trail blazing start-ups, but smaller employers don’t always have the resources to support a formal review process. There are other means of accomplishing this, though. Self-evaluation can be a highly effective way to engage with your employees about not only their job performance but also their attitudes and aspirations.
In a self-evaluation, employees respond to a series of questions to help them assess their own performance. This guides employees through a process that allows them to focus on various aspects and nuances of their work, including all the components of the job itself, their goals and achievements, where they seem themselves falling short, and any professional development they may need.
One of my clients, Paul, was referred to me a few years ago because his career was stagnating with his current employer, a successful start-up technology company. When he was hired with five years of manufacturing engineering experience under his belt, he was told that as the company grew he would have opportunities to advance into management. Over the next three years the company did grow but Paul did not move into management. What happened? I discovered that this company had no formal review processes in place, nor any career development programs. Why is that important? We all need constructive feedback on a regular basis to acknowledge our accomplishments and areas for improvement to continue to grow as professionals.
The self-evaluation process can foster candid, constructive dialog between employees and management. Instead of the boss filling out a form and essentially passing judgment on an employee, the act of self-evaluation leads to introspection on the part of the employee to honestly assess his or her own performance, convey accomplishments and challenges, and express career growth interests. Rather than performance evaluation being just another management chore to be checked off, self-evaluation can become the catalyst for improved internal communication while empowering employees to take greater responsibility for their job satisfaction.
In Paul’s case, we worked together to put a self-evaluation process in place and he started on the journey of evaluating his performance with co-workers and management. He was able to identify his strengths and weaknesses and together we developed an action plan for him. The good news is that Paul made the move into a manufacturing management position with increased compensation – but with a different company that recruited him. The bad news is that his former company lost a valuable asset, a costly mistake which could have been avoided.