The dreaded performance evaluation can be a horror story for some people. In some cases it's a truly toxic, stressful, experience, and it takes preparation and management. Part of the problem is that the performance evaluation isn't always properly understood. But in many cases, the performance evaluation isn't properly conducted, either, and that can cause big issues for employers and employees.

The importance of performance evaluations

Workplace agreements are usually based on performance measures. These performance requirements are spelled out in the agreements. A performance evaluation is supposed to be a structured review of employee performance. It has a direct relevance to the workplace agreement, terms of employment, and employment laws.

A properly conducted performance evaluation works on several criteria created under the workplace agreement. These criteria are usually directly related to productivity, quality standards, training, skills development, and other relevant parts of the job, and they're measured by set standards.

For example:

* Productivity is measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

* Quality standards are based on supervisor's reports.

* Training requirements are covered under workplace agreements by agreed training programs.

* Skills development includes higher duties training, and similar natural developments in employment opportunities.

Performance evaluations, in fact, are supposed to be positive things. The only negative aspects are intended to be when people fall below performance standards.

Workplace culture and performance evaluations

So why the general loathing of performance evaluations? Employees don't like a process that seems to be a critique of them. They're often not shown the positive aspects of the process. Employers don't always understand the importance of the evaluations, and they consider it a cosmetic exercise (which it isn't) the minute a workplace agreement is signed.

Problems with performance evaluations

The workplace culture has created a problem with misconceptions about performance evaluations. In many cases, these misconceptions cause staff losses, lawsuits, and major workplace problems, including violence.

Employees are usually the victims in these cases, although employers can also be at risk of employees rioting against the performance system. Often, when the process is badly managed, the performance evaluations can blow up in the face of employers. The "cosmetic" process turns into a suit for damages.

The main cause of complaint from employees is an unreasonable or unfair approach to evaluations, where negative performance reviews damage their employment situation. Courts have been finding in favor of many US employees in these cases.

Avoiding the problems

The performance evaluation is intended to be a practical, positive method of dealing with productivity and standards. If it's done properly, a performance evaluation shouldn't be a problem for anyone doing their job properly.

The way around these unnecessary situations is easy enough:

* Train people conducting performance reviews to do their jobs properly.

* Train managers to understand their obligations and liabilities with performance evaluations.

* Train staff to know how to approach performance evaluations from a positive perspective.

The HR industry has been trying for years to create equitable systems which help employers and employees. Performance evaluation is one of the key systems in any workplace. It's supposed to be the solution, not the problem.
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