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The Annual Evaluation: Welcomed Or Dreaded?

The Annual Evaluation: Welcomed or Dreaded?

By Renée Cohen
Proposal Manager & Contributing Writer at Quantum

Much like going to the dentist or to the doctor for an annual checkup, enduring an annual evaluation at work is something many employees (and employers) dread.

Typically, annual evaluations involve formal questionnaires used to assess an employee’s performance. These are generally followed by a one-on-one meeting in which the findings are summarized and discussed between the issuer of the evaluation (either a boss/supervisor or manager) and the employee. Quite often, merit bonuses and/or raises are contingent upon the results of these evaluations.

Ideally, if well designed and executed, annual evaluations present a great opportunity to:

  • Establish where priorities lie for both the employer and the employee
  • Address which areas, if any, require improvements
  • Discuss possibilities for additional training
  • Explore potential opportunities, including promotions or transfers
  • Express any challenges the employee may be facing regarding their position or colleagues

Aside from helping the employer gauge if their subordinates are on the right track, the annual evaluation is an equally ideal opportunity for the employee to ascertain if they are in a good position in terms of their own career trajectory.

In some cases, evaluations have helped employees realize that that their job was not really a fit for them after all! Carla Simmons* was a manager at a marketing company where the annual evaluation was a month-long endeavour. According to Carla, not only was this particular annual assessment complex and difficult for employees to fill out, but she found it hard to score as well. “It consisted of a giant spreadsheet that also contained many sections, including one that called for long-form answers. As a manager, I had to evaluate the members of my team and even help them write their own objectives. In my opinion and experience, it was a colossal waste of time!”

Some companies don’t partake in the more formal (or antiquated, as some might argue) tradition of having employees fill out questionnaires. Rather, they prefer to hold informal quarterly, monthly, or even weekly one-on-one meetings between management and subordinates instead.

Rosa Milton*, a supervisor in the communications department of an advertising company, holds informal, frequent one-on-one meetings with members of her team. Referencing the TV show Seinfeld, Rosa jokes that these meetings are sometimes akin to Festivus, George Constanza’s family’s unique holiday celebration during which everyone airs their grievances.

According to Rosa, regular discussions that involve constructive criticism and feedback (or “feedforward” as some people prefer), encourages open communication, transparency and also enables her to garner insight about the challenges faced by everyone on her team.

Ideally, employees should emerge from any type of evaluation with a clearer—and hopefully positive—understanding of their future within the organization.

The philosopher Epictetus once said, “No great thing is created suddenly.” For those who would rather have root canal than endure another annual evaluation, consider approaching the next one with the mindset that it may lead to something great in the new year.

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*Names changed

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