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A New Way To Do Performance Evaluations

Originally published
Originally published: 9/1/2014

Create a management process that actually encourages great performance 


recently gave a speech to a large audience of state and federal employees. The room was filled with young and old, and I was talking about the differences between the generations. At one point, I said the one thing all generations had in common in the workplace: we all hate the evaluation process. 

Most managers and supervisors dread doing this and end up putting it off, or doing it poorly. Employees don't like it either, and often feel the comments or scores are arbitrary and de-motivating. 

On the other hand, helping people work together to improve the overall performance of the company can be a rewarding and exciting conversation. Many employees don't really understand what is expected of them, and aren't sure what to do to get the results their manager expects. 

To gain a mutual understanding, setting the foundation for future discussions, consider developing the basic Key Result Areas (KRAs) for each position — including owners and senior leaders — all the way to the service and factory floor levels. 

It helps to think of team members as people who are faced with a set of "consumers" who place demands for certain "outputs" from them. These consumers may be co-workers, managers, supervisors or external customers. The demanded outputs may be tangibles, such as manufactured goods or completed projects. Sometimes, they're intangibles, such as ideas or advice. You want to make sure your team members know which areas are important to produce real results for the company. 

KRAs originate from your company's strategic plan and they describe the specific areas in which outputs must be produced for each position. Some examples of KRAs include:

  • Sales
  • Productivity
  • Profit
  • Production Quality
  • Customer Service 
  • Administration and Records
  • Policies & Procedures

Next, work with each team member to identify 1 or 2 measureable objectives for each of these KRAs. Objectives define the specific performance results that need to be met and go into more detail than KRAs, which specify the broad outputs of the position. Objectives should specify an end-result giving brief details of how it will be achieved and measured.

Remember, this is a joint effort between a manager/leader and a team member, working together to clarify the KRAs and the associated measureable objectives. The discussion is just as important as writing out the KRAs or objectives. In fact, this is a good time for leaders to share their own KRAs — after all, this is a two-way street. 

Throughout the year, schedule regular professional development discussions to review progress in meeting the KRAs and associated performance objectives that were agreed to at the beginning of the business planning cycle. 

These are "how am I doing?" discussions and provide a valuable opportunity for coaching, problem solving and updating performance objectives. This gives both parties a chance to compare actual results with performance objectives. 

These discussions also serve to:

  • Celebrate performance results on or above target, and agree on how good performance can be maintained.
  • Identify any performance results below target and co-develop plans to improve them.
  • Discuss problems that may affect future performance and plan preventative action.
  • Agree and plan any specific help the employee requires to accomplish his or her performance objectives.
  • Add, change or delete KRAs and/or performance objectives in response to changes in priorities or business conditions.
  • Find out what the leader can do to clear the path — find ways to support the team member's efforts and create opportunities for improvement. 

Finally, this process works best when it's transactional — a two-way discussion in which both the leader and the team member are talking about what they both can do to help the company to achieve its goals. 

This is about the performance of the individuals, the teams they're in and the company as a whole. It's time we do away with the old methods of trying to evaluate another person and instead create positive opportunities about the things that matter. 



Lisë Stewart is founder and director of Galliard Group, a training and consulting firm specializing in family-owned and closely held businesses. She is a nationally recognized author and speaker who draws on more than 25 years of experience to share practical advice for ensuring sustainability of family businesses. You can reach Lisë at  




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