This article was updated on September 19, 2018.

Most managers rely on employee performance evaluation programs to monitor their staff members' strengths, areas for improvement and accomplishments. In order to yield the desired results, reassess these programs regularly.

If you're thinking about revising your evaluation process, you should start by asking yourself the following four questions:

1. Do You Look Forward or Backward?

What do you focus on when your employees arrive for their performance reviews? Are you consistently bringing up issues from weeks or months ago, or re-hashing old disciplinary incidents? If so, it may be time for a change.

As noted by ACHR News, one key mistake that many managers make when they're conducting evaluations is focusing on old problems that should have been addressed as soon as they occurred. If remediation didn't take place at the time of the incident, it may not be appropriate to address the issue during a performance evaluation. If the employee already received discipline and overcame the performance problems, then it's likely not necessary to discuss during the performance review.

Highly critical, negative reviews that don't offer ways to improve may not be as effective as evaluations that identify employee strengths and developmental needs that offer ways to help employees improve.

2. Are You Always Prepared?

When employees arrive for their evaluations, are you prepared with timely questions and relevant data — such as performance logs — or is your plan to "wing it" because you know the staff member quite well or there's "not much to discuss"? According to Security InfoWatch, preparation is key to an effective evaluation. In fact, if you don't have comments and feedback prepared, you might want to reschedule. After all, a lack of preparation gives the impression that you don't take the process seriously. If that's the case, your employees won't take the review seriously, either.

Remember that this in-person discussion should be a conversation between you and your employee. When planning the meeting, you should always schedule enough time to allow the employee to ask any questions they may have and respond to your feedback.

3. Do Your Evaluations Align With Your Pre-Hire Practices?

It's important to think about the type of pre-hiring practices you have in place and whether your evaluations match these expectations. For example, if your pre-hire testing focused on high-speed, low-error data entry, the same skills should be a priority during subsequent reviews.

4. What's the Goal of This Evaluation Process?

Ultimately, it's most important to think about what you are looking to gain from your employee performance evaluation programs. For many organizations, this goal boils down to determining a set of numerical data: "X" amount of employees are high-performing, "Y" are mid-range and "Z" need serious improvement. If that's the case in your business, you should consider focusing more on specific accomplishments that need to be achieved as opposed to numerical or arbitrary performance values.

When you're trying to determine whether you should update your employee performance evaluation system, you should focus on ways to help strengthen performance and reinforce consistent expectations that are clearly communicated. Avoid rehashing past incidents. If you revise your processes, be sure to update any performance review policies to reflect the changes.

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