Motivational Keynote Speaker

Leadership & Team Building Expert

Author of It Takes 4 To Tango


Are you a Side-Swiper?

By Candy Whirley on July 8, 2014

Can an organization’s performance evaluation system affect employee behavior?

An organization’s performance evaluation system can affect employees positively or negatively, depending on the way the leader delivers the feedback, and sets goals for the employees.

When leaders hire employees or put them on a new project, they must communicate the goals that are expected of the employees.  The employees must understand what the leader expects, so there will be no surprises on the performance evaluation. This is SO important! Goals must be clear and concise. 

Authors McShane and Von Glown explain six characteristics of effective goal-setting: 

  • Specific goals which are goals with measurable outcomes
  • Relevant goals are goals that have meaning to the employee’s job
  • Challenging goals help the employee grow, and deliver more fulfillment when the goals are achieved
  • Goal commitments are goals that are challenging yet motivating to the employee
  • Goal participation works sometimes when the employee participates in setting the goals
  • Goal feedback is giving the employee feedback whether he or she is on target or giving the consequences if the goal is missed. (McShane, 2004) 

Although goals are important, feedback is the key to an excellent performance evaluation.  I have worked with many employees from numerous organizations who complain that they received an average to below average performance evaluation at the end of the year.  When I ask the employees if their managers gave them any feedback about their poor performance throughout the year, they said the managers did not say a word!  The employee was SIDE-SWIPED! 

I believe this was not an employee mistake; this was a manager mistake for not giving appropriate feedback.  The book, Organizational Behavior: Emerging Realities for the Workplace Revolution notes five steps to effective feedback that leaders need to know and understand before submitting a performance evaluation. When a leader is giving feedback on a performance evaluation the feedback needs to be specific, relevant, timely, sufficiently frequent, and credible. 

Many of these characteristics are similar to goal setting.  Specific and relevant have the same definitions as above.  The leaders also need to give their feedback in a timely manner.  I tell leaders in my leadership workshops not to wait until the end of the year or even three months if the employees are not performing their job duties as expected.  Leaders should give their employees feedback every quarter formally, and at least bi-monthly informally to ensure the employees are performing to their optimum level. Sufficiently frequent feedback depends on the project, if the employee is a new hire, and the experience of the employee.  If the employee is a new hire or inexperienced, the feedback may be necessary more often than quarterly.

The last step to effective feedback is the fact that the feedback should be credible.  The person giving the employee the feedback should be trustworthy, respectful, and a credible source.

If leaders understand the effective characteristics of goal setting and feedback there should be no surprises in the performance evaluations.  If these important steps are not taken, the results could be de-motivation, misunderstandings, and even employee turnover.


 McShane, S., & Von Glinow, M. (2005). Organizational behavior: emerging realities forthe workplace revolution. Chapters 5, 3rd ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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