“We are valued wither too highly or not high enough; we are never taken at our real worth.”
— Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
Team members, even if they initially fit the position perfectly, may change priorities over time, and so may the requirements for their position. For example, in most industries, you need to improve and develop your skills, learn new techniques, and learn new software.
To work effectively, a team needs to be engaged in the development of team members. But in order to do this systematically, you need a clear and transparent system for evaluating employees.
Effective employee evaluation methods
Employee evaluations consist of five steps:
- Planning. This is a clear definition of the goals and methods (algorithms) of evaluation.
- Preparation. This is making a plan – schedule of work, necessary documents and so on.
- Evaluation. Two different approaches: qualitative and quantitative. Includes different methods for identification of personal skills (soft skills) and professional skills (hard skills).
- Summative evaluation and conclusions. Analyzing the results, giving feedback to your employees, and so on.
- Making decisions. Program implementation of personnel changes on the basis of the assessment: relocation, dismissal, and development.
The process evaluation often uses the following methods:
- Qualitative approach:
- Assessment as a whole, where the employee sits down with the leader and there is a discussion of work processes and results.
- Matrix method using a Competency Model for the ideal team member.
- 360° method. Assessment by manager, employees, subordinates, and colleagues.
- Quantitative approach:
- A point system where an employee receives points for certain activities throughout the work.
- Rating system, when a leader ranks employees based on their grades, lining them up and comparing them to each other.
It is also important to combine different assessment approaches together: testing and interviewing, expert opinion, or simulation of a stressful situation or a difficult task (business games). All this will give the most objective picture of the employee’s current level and allow for making the right decision on his or her further development in the future.
Individual Development Plan
If, after the evaluation, the leader decides to keep the employee, an Individual Development Plan (IDP) is ideally needed to improve the employee’s performance. Why?
- Additional motivation. The employee understands that the organization’s management believes in him or her and is willing to invest resources in developing him or her.
- Focusing on the development of the necessary skills for professional development and further growth.
- Control over the development of the employee. There is a clear understanding of the goals and intermediate stages.
- Allows the leader and team member to reflect on strengths and weaknesses.
The IDP itself should consist of:
- Goal setting. Usually this is an improvement of specific skills to some level or areas of improvement.
- Clear deadlines for achieving the set goals and controlling them.
What is a key element of every individual development plan?
For maximum results, the following elements should be included in the employee’s IDP:
- Workplace development. Got any new ideas? You need to implement them immediately, if possible.
- Special knowledge and projects: foreign languages, volunteer experience, etc.
- Learning from the experience of others. An employee should not be ashamed to learn from colleagues or even subordinates.
- Self-learning: books, articles, videos, webinars, etc.
- Training session, seminars, and conferences.
However, in order for all of the above to have the maximum effect, a mentor is necessary. It can be a manager or a leader, but definitely a person with the right set of competences.
It is also necessary to remember that at the end of the plan of individual development it is obligatory to make conclusions. They can include both positive and negative feedback. This applies, however, to any performance evaluation in general, not just the execution of the IDP.
Negative feedback from the team leader to the employee
Sometimes it is also called “motivational” feedback or constructive feedback. The point is that along with successes, the manager also points out problem points in the employee’s work. This is a very important aspect for his future development and possible cooperation in general. And here there are important features:
- Negative feedback should be planned in advance, starting with the goal of what it is for.
- It is desirable to create a structure for the future meeting with the employee before the conversation: prioritization of topics with specific examples of what was wrong in the actions of the team member.
- It is necessary to formulate a follow-up action plan. What the employee must do to change, and exactly how he or she will do it.
Only after all this has been done and recorded for both sides can it be said that the negative feedback has been given. The only thing to do next is to control the process of working on the mistakes and then do a new evaluation.
Training methods for employees
Individual development plans are a good thing, but for teamwork it is the cooperation between colleagues, managers, and subordinates that plays an important role. Therefore, training employees in groups is simply necessary for effective teamwork. Two groups of methods are used for this purpose:
- Aimed at solving some practical problem together to gain new knowledge, skills, and experience.
- Aimed solely at learning. As a rule, these are theoretical lectures.
How exactly to structure group training depends exclusively on the current needs of the team, the project, and the leader’s vision.
- Real task assignment with further review. When each employee evaluates the actions of the team and its individual members.
- Creating guilds. When groups of people are created based on their area of expertise: developers in one, marketers in another, and so on. As a result, professional experience is shared.
- Literary circles. When a group of people who are interested in the same topic agree to read a book together and then discuss it. Communication improves and the circle of communication expands.
And there are many such practices of group learning. But the greatest effect is brought by a complex, taking into account the individual plans of employees. It is also necessary to remember that any training must lead to a certain goal – to increase the productivity of each employee and the team as a whole. And here it is impossible to do without an Employee Appraisal.
An appraisal of an employee is the process of evaluation and, at the same time, an important control point for the entire company. It is a matter of budget allocation and time to discuss with the team (department, company) further plans, results, and in general to understand what is actually happening.
A good appraisal is a system that is based on:
- Frequency of action. You can’t review employees whenever the leader wants. There must be a clear schedule.
- Comparison of periods. In other words, it is necessary to keep statistics for further analysis.
- Clear methodology for objective evaluation of results following decisions and actions.
It is possible that after an Employee Appraisal that there will not only be changes in the team and the company, but also considerable correction of plans and budget. Such a checkpoint helps to better understand problem areas: in work processes and recruitment, approaches to training, and tools used by a manager to create a dream team.
Building an effective team is a difficult task, but it’s an even more difficult task to keep the team together over the long-term haul. This requires regular development of the professional and soft skills of your employees. This guarantees that their knowledge and skills will be relevant and your project will be effective.