The end of the calendar year is just around the corner, and along with managing complex vacation schedules and decorating the office for the holidays, most managers will soon find themselves mired the season’s biggest challenge: performance reviews.
Performance reviews are not the most popular activity of the year, since the process can be tedious at best and acutely awkward at worst. But until someone invents an app that can help companies get the most out of employees without the need for annual evaluations, these evaluations will serve a vital purpose. When they’re executed correctly, they leave strong employees feeling motivated and well-prepared to give their best during the year ahead, and they give weaker employees the warnings and coaching they need to step up the pace. Here are a few tips that can help you generate meaningful evaluations for your tech staff.
1. The more structure the better. Especially if you have a large, sprawling team with widely varied responsibilities. Choose a format that works well for your office culture and business model (such as the nine-box, weighted metric, or 360 degree model) and find a way to apply that model across all divisions, levels, and project groups.
2. Don’t skip self-evaluations. No matter which model or format you choose, make sure self-evaluations play a role in your process. Managers should assign specific questions for employees to answer about their own performance before collecting these answers and applying them to formal evaluations. Choose multiple choice, short answer, essay questions, or a mix of all three—just make sure employees are given enough time to complete them before the cycle begins.
3. Get expert help. If your project managers have been hired for their leadership skills, not their tech skills, don’t let them evaluate technical employees without outside input. Use your SMEs and provide employees with more than one perspective on their performance. If you let non-technical people criticize network managers or helpdesk workers on technical aspects of performance, you may end up undermining your employees’ respect for their supervisors and creating more problems than you solve.
4. Keep all takeaways positive. Even the harshest criticisms can be couched in diplomatic and positive terms. If you can’t find a constructive way to say something, it doesn’t need to be said.
5. Provide direction. No matter how you choose to format your reviews, make sure that the end of every session involves clear action items for the employee during the year ahead. Set meaningful goals, and make sure your managers follow up with employees on a regular schedule.
For more information on coaching and evaluating technical staff and keeping your teams motivated and growth-focused, reach out to the MA technical staffing experts at Tech Needs.