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How to Deliver a Painless 90 Day Employee Performance Evaluation

October 4, 2019

By: Crystal Spraggins

Part of an effective onboarding process is providing honest, actionable feedback. Without feedback, employees don’t know whether they’re doing a good job or how they could do a better job.  Unfortunately, far too many managers shy away from providing feedback. A 2013 survey by Ceridian noted that only 47% of employees regularly receive feedback from their boss.  So, while it’s unlikely you’ll ever actually look forward to conducting a review, they’re a necessary part of the job that if done properly can actually drive high performance.

How then, can you make this “dreaded event” less dreadful? Make the necessary tolerable.

8 tips for a painless 90 day employee performance evaluation:

1. Change your mindset.

Instead of telling yourself the review is a waste of time and you don’t want to do it, flip the script in your head.

First, reviews done well are not a waste of time —far from it. These discussions are vital to employee development and engagement. Taking the time to plan and execute reviews also shows your employees you care about them and their career success, and these demonstrations are key to employee morale.

Second, you may not want to do the review, but it’s the job, so better to get it done than keep discouraging yourself with regular negative self-talk.

2. Don’t wait until the last minute.

Don’t make a stressful task more stressful by rushing the deadline. Instead, prepare for the review bit by bit during those first 90 days. You’d be surprised how a comment jotted here or an email saved there can add up to a complete picture come review time.

3. Don’t forget it’s a conversation. 90 day review

When it comes down to it, you and your employee are going to have a conversation. As such, there’s no need to get too worked up beforehand. You’re just going to talk about the job, that’s all. You can do that, right?

4. Keep it objective.

If you have to give negative feedback, keep your comments as objective as possible. Instead of focusing on who the employee is, focus on what the company or the department needs relative to the employee’s skills or performance. Not everyone is suited to every job, and even if it turns out your new hire wasn’t the best choice, that doesn’t make him or her a bad person.

5. Refer to the job description.

When speaking with your employee, be sure and refer to the job description to back up your comments.

6. Set goals and expectations. 90 day review goals

After tackling this first, oh-so-important conversation,don’t let the momentum slip! Set realistic goals and expectations for the remainder of the year, bearing in mind that priorities will change as time passes, and checking in regularly with your employee will keep you both current.

7. Invite employee input.

Again (see Tip #3), the review should be more of a conversation than not, and that means both you and the employee should have opportunity to speak. Ask the employee what he’d like to learn in the next few months and whether the job has met his expectations so far. Listen carefully to the answers.

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8. Don’t be afraid to be honest.

If you’re astounded at how well the employee is doing, say so. You won’t give him or her a big head! (It’s amazing how many managers hold back praise for fear of inflating the employee’s ego.) At the same time, if you have serious concerns about whether your new hire will work out, don’t be afraid to say that as well. Ultimately, it’s better to tell the truth now than keep quiet only to have to drop the hammer later without warning.

Most new employees are eager for reassurance they’re performing well, and all new employees deserve early intervention when there are problems. Set good habits now, and conduct a painless 90-day performance review that reveals your expectations and your commitment to the well-being and success of employees.

omnia 90 day development plan

Crystal Spraggins

Freelance Writer, Editor, and HR Consultant in Philly. You can find more of Crystal's work at:

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