A survey published by Reuters in 2009 stated that four out of five employees working in the U.S. were dissatisfied with their performance evaluations. Polled workers say they dread them, and many employers feel the same.

A Necessary Evil?

While performance evaluations remain necessary, they don’t have to be an arduous process. Structured to fit the modern workplace, they can be a positive experience for everyone involved. An effective program provides feedback all year long and promotes employee moral and productivity.

Avoid These Common Mistakes

Standard evaluation forms are rather ambiguous with a one-size-fits-all design. They usually contain open-ended questions with a text box answer format. Studies have shown that this format can lead to a biased review.

Use those text boxes to your advantage instead. Create a checklist that will redirect you to specific data for that particular employee before filling in the box.

Time constraints can lead to simply filling out the form without taking the time to review your employee’s goals and accomplishments. Weekly team meetings can offer you valuable insight that will keep those box answers performance based.

Avoid grouping a salary review with a performance evaluation. You want your employee’s focus to be centered on their job performance, not wandering whether they are going to get a raise or how much it may be.

Lay the Foundation

Have a planning session with each of your employees at the beginning of the year. Listen to their personal career aspirations, set viable goals that focus on their strengths, and talk with them throughout the year. When your employees know what is expected of them, their performance improves.

Keep Anecdotal Records

Note their accomplishments and areas that need improvement on a regular basis so that you can conduct a balanced evaluation at the end of the year. Listen to feedback from other employees who work directly with them or who they may have completed a project with. Allow yourself adequate time to prepare your appraisal, and give the employee time to read over it before conducting the formal review.

Be Consistent

Reread all reviews with fresh eyes to make sure that your process is consistent, fair and criteria based. Make sure the criteria used is strictly performance based.

These strategies are both powerful and easy to implement. Make them part of your daily routine and progress will automatically follow.