As a manufacturing business owner, you manage operational issues, equipment, customers, suppliers, and your workforce—and each one is important to the overall success of your business. One of those key items is staffing and evaluating your workforce to ensure you have the quality staffing you need to be successful in your manufacturing business.
Let’s start off with some basics about the evaluation process. Before you develop your evaluation system, make sure you establish and clearly communicate your expectations with your workforce.
You should start by creating job descriptions (JD) or position description qualifications (PDQ). These documents describe detailed job responsibilities and expectations as well as what an employee needs to do to meet expectations. Review the appropriate documents with each employee. Consider adding this discussion to onboarding and training processes. Give each employee a hard copy or make the JD or PDQ available online.
Establish realistic goals for your employees. These goals should be specific, measurable, and achievable—such as "Decrease defects by 2% over the next year." If the goal is simply to "improve quality,” you cannot fairly evaluate the employee’s performance.
It is critical that you train your evaluators on how to provide effective feedback to employees. Make sure they understand not to change the standards. For example, don’t give an employee a lower rating for quality because the employee has missed some workdays. Attendance should not be addressed in the quality section of the evaluation. Evaluating performance should be a constructive and fair process. Be honest, be clear, and listen to your employees.
When filling out the evaluation form, make sure the entire review period is evaluated, not just the last positive or negative event. Write about specifics and ensure the feedback is constructive. If you write an evaluation that is full of praise and doesn’t address issues, you only reaffirm with the employee that any under-performing behavior is acceptable.
When planning an evaluation, schedule a meeting and ensure you have the time to sit down with the employee. Make it an open discussion. Ask questions to confirm the employee understands what you told them, positive or negative. Don’t have surprises in your evaluation. If the employee struggles or has issues, it should be addressed with the employee all along. The evaluation form is not a corrective action document. It should give the employee an understanding of how his or her performance compares to the set standards. Do not compare one employee to another in the evaluation form. Comparing employees can create animosity among them. Instead, initiate an open conversation with the employee, providing details on specific issues and what can be done to improve performance.
The key factors in providing effective employee evaluations are:
No surprises in the evaluation (concerns should be addressed when they happen)
Evaluate performance for the entire period
Make sure the employee understands what you are telling him or her
Use the evaluation as a coaching tool, not a corrective action document
Listen to what the employee says, even if he or she doesn’t agree with you
I believe most employees come to work and want to do a good job. Knowing this, use evaluations to praise employees for what they have done well and to identify areas for growth. Listen to what employees say. Often, they will tell you about issues they have or where they would like to improve. Write goals and objectives you have discussed with the employee on the evaluation form and make sure you follow up throughout the year to help improve performance.
If you spend time providing employees with honest and open feedback, they will be more willing to make changes and improve their performance. Good evaluations also build trust and respect between management and employees. Evaluations and follow-ups are great coaching tools that can improve the quality of your workforce.