How to Grade an Employee's Performance

Grading employee performance starts with understanding the employee’s job duties, responsibilities and role within the organization. For an accurate evaluation, a job description is necessary, as well as an understanding of what the job entails and the employee’s qualifications and aptitude. In addition, supervisors who grade an employee’s performance should be well-versed in the company’s performance appraisal methods and capable of producing objective and unbiased evaluations.

Review your organization’s performance management system as well as various documents for certain steps in the evaluation process. Grading employee performance may occur on an annual basis or even when an employee is still relatively new, such as upon completion of a 90-day introductory period. An intermediate evaluation after an employee completes an introductory or probationary period may differ slightly from a full performance appraisal conducted on an annual basis.

Obtain copies of the employee’s work logs, attendance records and other documents as evidence of productivity. Include notes from supervisors and managers, and documents related to commendations, discipline or corrective action.

Assess the employee’s job knowledge or functional expertise. Determine whether the employee’s performance is consistent with her expertise level. For example, if you are grading the performance of clinical nurse leader, observe her actual work duties for evidence of expertise in developing clinical care plans for hospital patients. If necessary, review the nurse’s clinical care plans for accuracy and the appropriate standard of care. When grading employee performance concerning functional expertise, ensure that the employee maintains up-to-date knowledge about her field as well as current licensure and certification.

Look at the employee’s job description for the core competencies necessary to perform his job duties. Core competencies are transferable skills useful for any position. Examples of core competencies include communication, organizational and time management skills. Assess whether the employee routinely uses these skills to perform his job duties. For instance, an employee who is always late on deadlines may not be using time management skills or available resources to improve his efficiency. When grading performance in these areas, look for consistency or repeated instances where employees should rely on their core competencies.

Evaluate whether the employee exhibits professional characteristics that are congruent with your company’s philosophy. Professional characteristics range from integrity to compassion and sound business principles. Although grading employees on these attributes may seem like a subjective challenge, observations of the employee’s working relationships and attitude about his job function can provide key indicators related to the employee’s professional characteristics.

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About the Author

Ruth Mayhew has been writing since the mid-1980s, and she has been an HR subject matter expert since 1995. Her work appears in "The Multi-Generational Workforce in the Health Care Industry," and she has been cited in numerous publications, including journals and textbooks that focus on human resources management practices. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. Ruth resides in North Carolina and works from her office in the nation's capital, Washington, D.C.