Whether you’re a boss or an employee, there is no phrase more cringe-inducing than, “employee evaluation.” Bosses dread the impending pay raise request, employees fret about whatever they’re about to be reprimanded for, and the truth…is that both the boss and the employee have good reason to cringe.
Boutique law firms and other small businesses don’t typically have a process for how and when raises are issued. Employees seeking a raise have one option: to ask for one. And the least invasive way to start this awkward discussion is via an employee review. So they ask their boss to schedule one. Cue the cringing.
Likewise, bosses hate having to step away from revenue-producing activities to discuss problems with their employees—but when the need arises, so does the need for an employee evaluation. Ugh.
So it makes sense that neither a boss nor an employee would want to engage in a formal employee evaluation. And think about what an employee review actually accomplishes: it’s a conversation about pay raises, or about reprimanding an employee for something that happened in the past. Come to think of it, it’s not really a conversation at all—it’s more like a guarded, hide-all-your-cards kind of meeting where both participants are on the defensive. Even best case scenario, the conversation stays amicable but is filled with fluff that accomplishes absolutely nothing.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk about your employee’s growth potential, and set long-term goals for their performance and professional development?
We say, down with employee evaluations! Down with this archaic and damaging practice that stunts entrepreneurship and drives innovation to a halt. What good comes of asking your employee to answer silly questions, like rating his or her timeliness? Why not save your time and energy and just address issues as they arise, rather than let them fester until one of you requests an employee evaluation? Under no circumstances should an employee ever hear negative feedback for the first time during a formal review. If they don’t know they’re doing something wrong, how can they fix it? And why would you prolong the process of fixing these problems until their review comes around?
And employees shouldn’t be asking for a pay raise in a formal “employee evaluation” setting, either! If the boss is just waiting for an employee to drop the “I want a raise” bomb, they’re only hearing a build-up to the employee’s request, rather than from a productive perspective that could open the door to progressive dialogue.
There is literally no place for employee reviews at boutique law firms or small businesses. The time to banish them was yesterday. Employee evaluations need, need, NEED to be replaced with employee empowerment and engagement. Conversations that drive the development of growth plans, that support an employee’s passions and goals, and that simultaneously meet the current and future demands of a business.