Just How Important Annual Evaluation Really Is

importance company annual evaluation business growth plan

Company Evaluation 

The end of the year rolls around, bringing the holiday anticipation and with it the end of year employee evaluation. Companies have a set-in-place policy to dish out feedback in bulk in one business meeting. And this is a process that usually has a structure similar to this, though it may vary: 

• Summary of how the company has performed and introducing any changes that the next year may bring 

• Discussing all the things you did right as an employee throughout the year 

• Discussing your shortcomings and any issues you may need to focus on and fix 

• Discussing your goals and your responsibilities for next year 

• Moving on to administrative points such as salary changes if any, Christmas bonuses or any other changes in benefits or company policies that may come up. 

Naturally, the order or even the entire process may vary from company to company. Not to mention the differences in industries. As a part of a custom software development company, that performs it meticulously, the evaluation and feedback process is quite important and there is a lot to take from it. 

Why Is An Annual Evaluation Important? 

Aside from the administrative functions, this provides the employee with a realistic idea where they stand and how their efforts are being perceived. This provides them with a clear objective on how to proceed in the future. Another reason is the fact that the management staff can also collect feedback on you from other employees, and have a better understanding of how the staff members are performing even if they do not work directly with them. This way they have collected concise information on all employees, whenever there is a promotion opening - making the selection process easier, and opening opportunities to be considered for a position even if you had not applied for it. 

What Are The Perks Of Feedback 

Setting aside the act that this is a process that is performed, a more important question arises: “Why?”. “Why do I need to sit in a small room against my superiors and listen to them pick apart my performance?” 

• Improvement Opportunities 

There is a lot you stand to gain from understanding your flaws: 

“A chain is no stronger than its weakest link” 

Having periodical meetings where you are provided with information on how your work is perceived will make it easier for you to know where you can focus your efforts for improvement. The best way to grow is to target your weak spots specifically until they become strong. 

Targeting the “weakest link” is not only done on a personal level from employee to employee, but also in the context of a team. If a project relies on multiple employees, the process will go along only as smooth as the “weakest link” may allow. And giving the opportunity for a more inexperienced professional to work on upgrading their performance is a benefit to the team as a whole - not only for the employee themselves. 

• Flexibility 

The more you work with a flawed habit or mindset, the more difficult it is to correct and override with a good habit instead. So receiving as frequent feedback as possible allows you to adjust your ways before you get into a routine that is either unhealthy or unproductive. 

Especially in a company that relies on you to perform in a way that is coherent with their values, requirements and sometimes company policies, having the option to be notified if a change is needed is invaluable. 

• Overview And Planning 

Seeing an overview of your performance of the previous year allows you to identify your strong features and also your weak ones. You can zero in on what needs to be resolved. And you may even find yourself surprised by something you did not pick up on - regardless if it is a good habit or a bad one. 

And then you can account for what will be needed in order to correct it and make a plan on how to target it in addition to setting goals for yourself. Depending on your work the goals will be different. Perhaps you will want to focus more on your managerial and communication skills. Or on your skills with new upcoming technology. Or you may want to be more social with your colleagues. 

What Are Potential Pitfalls With Evaluations 

Corporate feedback is a process carried out by a vast majority of the enterprises, in one form or another. The difference is whether it is performed carefully while taking into account any Intell collected and communicated successfully, or if it is done Pro-forma, as an administrative requirement. So what could go wrong if the process is poorly executed? 

• Sloppy Execution 

If performed for the sake of it, you may be shocked to hear nothing but general cliches that do not help you grow. In addition to filling out the same questionnaires year after year, without seeing any changes made in the working environment. 

• Allowing Bad Behaviour To Go On Too Long, Waiting For Evaluation Time 

Another potential pitfall of badly executed feedback practice would be to pack up all of the information for the sake of having a productive evaluation meeting. The fact is that feedback should be given whenever is needed rather than postponed for the sake of an administrative meeting. 

If feedback is given right away and if the issue remains it can be repeated at a formal meeting - or if it has been resolved, it should be discussed how it was resolved. But if performed as a formality, feedback does not really allow for a change to be made but rather, allows bad habits to stack up - making them harder to correct. 

Self-Evaluation And Growth 

Receiving feedback is a practice in a corporate environment but as you see that does not necessarily mean you can rely on it to be done well. This is entirely up to the company you work for, in addition to the people you have for colleagues. Not to mention the management team. If you are lucky your mentors and superiors will help you tremendously with feedback whenever you need it as well as during the evaluation periods. 

If you are not so lucky and you feel you are getting stuck and want to get better, there is a lot you can do as well. Growth can be to a large degree a matter of mindset. So here are a few things you can try to do more of: 

Do Not Wait To Do It Once A Year 

This is not spring cleaning. In order to grow, looking for the mistakes in your daily activities and targeting them to improve upon them should be a mindset and not an annual phenomenon. So don’t feel obligated to take on the huge responsibility of evaluating your work once or twice a year. But rather, try to make it a priority to observe your daily work and analyze it to see what needs work and what doesn’t. 

Being mindful of what you could improve on is the best thing you can do for yourself both on a personal level and for your career. It also has the added bonus that if you do it this way, you only need to deal with a bite-sized changes, rather than taking on a cocktail of bad habits that have been evolving and growing deep roots for months - or even years. 

Keep Track Of Your Performance 

There are two main ways I track my improvement and make sure it is measurable and accountable. The first one is writing notes related to my performance. I can review them at any time if I need them. Also, this allows me to see if I repeat the same things. The second thing is a notepad with daily to-do lists. 

I can go as far back as I need to check up on how I was doing: if I was able to perform all of my tasks, which tasks were difficult, which tasks took me more time, and which ones I kept falling behind on. This helped me isolate the root cause of the issue and find a way to correct it. 

Set Goals Ahead Of Time And Stick To Them 

Goal Setting can be dreadful. They make you think about what you are doing wrong and they are so easy to overpack, to the point you add so much to the list you couldn’t possibly take care of it all and maintain your performance quality. No to mention the risk of burnout you are putting yourself through. 

But goals can be helpful. They can be a rough roadmap towards your goals simply making sure you are on the right track, rather than rushing you forward when you are unsure of what you are aiming for. The key to finding the balance is to divide your goals into categories and only set a shortlist for each. Also, make the goals specific. 

For example, you want to focus on the category to build up your knowledge you can choose: 

• one: reading four chapters of a book every week - choosing books that further your knowledge, and continuously replacing your books as you finish them 

• two: attend 5 seminars throughout the next year on topics you are interested in - this can be both something that can advance your career, or events that focus on your personal interests or hobbies. 

• three: register for a learning platform and spend one hour every week listening to a lesson and developing a skill. 

Naturally, you are the one who should be determining your goals, with the mindset to make them specific. And whatever you do: do not overpack your list of goals! 

Throw New Year’s Resolutions Out The Window 

Surely you have heard of the hoax that is “New Year Resolutions”. Perhaps you have even tried it a couple of times and inevitably forgot all about the goals you set. The core issue with resolutions is that you are essentially putting off starting to take care of yourself. It creates the idea that you do not have to do anything until the right time comes, wasting precious time setting old habits. 

You tell yourself you will do better once the new year comes, you get to it very motivated and suddenly it is February and you find yourself back to your old habits banging your head why you could not stick with the changes. 

Which is quite simple: you started off with the mindset that the changes would be temporary, and that they are inspired by the new year. So once the new year doesn’t feel new anymore you slip back into your old ways. Essentially the resolutions culture stems from setting goals and giving them a deadline. This approach is wrong. 

Why? You must be specific with your goal setting.  Here is an example: 

• Saying “I will work out more often” will simply not cut it. If you go to the gym once every three months now, then going once a month will fit in your resolution. But it will not fit your expectations, nor give you a sense of achievement and resilience you likely seek. 

• Instead tell yourself: “I will go to the gym three times a week for the next three months”. You have a consistent base and an easily measurable metric of whether you are on track or not. Besides, why wait until the next year when you can start right now? 

Sustainable And Objective Growth Through Feedback 

The purpose of growth through feedback and self-evaluation, is not to get into a state of rushing to fix all of your personal shortcomings all at once. In fact, this is the best way to stress yourself out and completely give up, along with reaching burnout. 

It is rather, intended to shine a light on what needs your attention. It allows you to be a little bit more mindful of your performance, and helps identify what needs a little work. 

And the best benefit of all? It allows you to plan how you want to target the changes. You can prioritize what to take on first, you can plan out how you will tackle it. And even if you are not the type of person who likes to plan out what to do, how and when, it is at the very least at the back of your head nudging you gently in the right direction. 

What was the most valuable feedback you received in the past year? What was the biggest revelation you made as to what you need to focus on? How are you planning to target that in a way that is productive, yet healthy?

Bootstrap Business Blog Newest Posts From Mike Schiemer, Partners, & Blog Outreach Services