Why Formal Staff Evaluations Are a Waste of Time

Photo courtesy of http://www.ok.gov/

Photo courtesy of http://www.ok.gov/

I don’t have a formal evaluation process for my staff. At one church I worked at we had a 5 page one we had to fill out on everyone a couple of times a year. It was exhausting and kinda burned me out on the whole formal process thing.

What I do in place of those is real-time evaluations. When I see or hear about someone on my team doing something right I thank and praise them for it then and there. It might be in the form of a verbal thanks, a handwritten note, a gift card, or something else I think they would like.

I do have a short form I have my team fill out when they first start working with me so I have an idea of what that something might be. Over the years, as I get to know them better, I add to that list so it stays up to date.

I also use real-time evaluations for coaching and correcting. When I see or hear about someone on my team doing something they probably shouldn’t be doing or should be doing better I sit down with them (once I’ve gotten all the facts) and talk to them about it. If it’s serious enough or a reoccurring problem I’ll document it so I can bring some objectivity to the ongoing conversation.

I think there’s something powerful about real-time evaluations. When you catch things in the moment, whether it’s a behavior that needs to be corrected or reinforced, the sooner you point it out the sooner something can be done about it.

Waiting for a formal evaluation tends to let problems drag on longer than they need to. Delaying praise makes people think you don’t care about them and the work their doing.

In addition to real-time evaluations I also have regular one-on-one meetings with my direct reports (as they do with theirs). This creates a regular rhythm where we can have these kind of conversations in an organic way without them worrying if they’re in trouble because I decided to call a special meeting with them. It also gives us a chance to talk about what they’re learning, how they’re doing, issues we need to trouble shoot, and how I can be a better leader to them.

How do you give feedback to your team?

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