When it comes to performance evaluations for employees, there are all kinds of methods used by human resources to gauge where that team member stands. None of them are fool-proof, and there’s no guaranteed way to ascertain all the pros and cons of keeping someone on staff, but they can certainly help provide criteria for making that call.

A Few HR Evaluation Methods

  • The 360-Degree Review: This is a feedback process where it’ll incorporate input from people all around the employee in question – direct managers, peers, adjacent managers and reporting staff – so there’s a truly comprehensive look. Ideally, these should be offered anonymously and confidentially. Factors included will be general competence and behavior, plus things like their character, ability to contribute as a team member, their leadership skills, and planning, listening and goal-setting/achieving. This feedback can be invaluable for a team’s growth.
  • MBO – Management by Objective: Under this performance evaluation method, there are strategic objectives or goals to be met, and the simple question to ask and answer is, "Has the employee met the objective?" Maybe there’s a huge project with a drop-dead end date that they haven’t met or there’s a sales quota they must meet. There’s a metric set out by management and the outcome is tracked for each employee with consequences for those repeatedly falling short.
  • Checklist: This classic performance evaluation method will consider all kinds of parameters like punctuality, attitude, productivity and resourcefulness. A simple checklist is created and filled out according to how the employee meets each one. A “weighted” checklist can be better than a yes/no list because it’ll have a numerical score the manager can enter on each one with a final number that can be akin to the grade earned at the end of a school semester.
  • Field Review Method: This is when someone from HR will shadow or observe an employee at work in the wild. They’ll watch the team member and then gauge their performance based on select criteria. The downside to this performance evaluation method is that there can be field knowledge gaps for the HR observer who may make faulty observations based on their limited knowledge of the job, task or products involved.
  • Human Resource (Cost) Accounting Method: This performance evaluation method seeks to answer the question, “What's the employee’s monetary benefit to the company?” This will take into consideration things like how much they cost to retain versus what their productivity is, their interpersonal and inter-office relationships, overhead, benefits and more. It’s easy to overlook non-measurable benefits in this method, though, and the power of memory recall of the appraiser can be a drawback as well.

Some Caveats About Performance Reviews

Regardless of the human resources management approaches to employee performance in use, no evaluation method takes all the factors into consideration. As the story goes, life doesn’t happen in a straight line and everyone has their ups and downs. Maybe the employee had a car accident and their concussion affects their performance for the next year; it doesn’t mean they won’t return to their old form the year after.

Relationships, guidance and morale are all hard to gauge from these performance evaluation methods, no matter how astute the reviewers are. Some employees make everyone around them better just by being there – they always have answers to questions, they’ll be thoughtful of others and they establish a good tone in the workplace. Sometimes, the data on a review is helpful to get a clearer picture of an employee, but there’s also a lot to be said for gut instinct on how to proceed.