Q: I’m supposed to do a yearly evaluation of an employee I’ve supervised for only three months. From what I’ve observed, she’s a so-so performer and needs improvement in most areas. The problem: She thinks she’s doing great. I’ve overheard her being confident about how good she’s at her job. How do I evaluate someone with an unrealistically high opinion of their performance?
A: Yikes! I feel your pain.
It’s tough when reality collides with delusions of grandeur. Often these situations happen when employees receive little to no feedback about how they are doing. The default assumption is “no news is good news”.
Or worse, it can happen when employees receive sugar-coated feedback –with no mention of problems—and assume “I’m doing well”. This might have been the case before you arrived on the scene. The previous supervisor perhaps did not mention problems or gave incomplete feedback. It’s understandable. Those are difficult conversations, and supervisors avoid them. But now this is your problem.
Your job is to gently burst this bubble without demoralizing the employee. You want to keep her motivated thereby increasing the likelihood that she will put forth the effort needed to improve.
How do you do that?
Do your homework, get your facts. We are more receptive to feedback (especially if it’s negative or different from our beliefs) when we think the speaker knows what they’re talking about. Employees are no different. Ask previous supervisors and co-workers for input, become familiar with her record, both good and bad. Ask the employee to complete a self-evaluation form (available online) which asks about accomplishments, strengths, interests, areas they want to improve.
Take it slowly and be supportive.
After you’ve discussed the areas to be improved and the plan to get there during the meeting, make sure you allow plenty of time for changes to occur. Provide her support, frequent feedback (especially for millennials) and guidance along the way. Ask what you can do to help her succeed on the job (training, coaching, equipment, change in schedule, whatever).
In my experience, these type of employees are very motivated to improve and work hard to restore their self image. So if handled well, the odds for improvement are in your employee’s favor.
©Copyright Eva Del Rio