Frequent, Effective Performance Evaluations Are Key to Avoiding Litigation
Very often, in a wrongful termination lawsuit, plaintiffs claim that they were never given any chance to improve their performance, and were never provided any feedback about their performance before they were fired. Frequent performance evaluations are not just a way to get employees to perform better, but also a way for employers to document all that they have done to get an employee to deliver results.
Unfortunately, employers are often far too lazy about performing evaluations. These are considered routine tasks that must be gotten over with, and as a result, you have a performance evaluation that lasts under five minutes. A hurried-evaluation that does not focus on a worker’s weaknesses or strengths is not what an employee really needs. If there are problems in performance, the employee must be informed of these during the evaluation. Not only that, but these problems must also be well documented, and you must have clear proof that the employee was informed about his lack of results, or below-par performance, and was given a chance to rectify it.
If you have not conducted frequent or effective performance appraisals, and the employee continues to perform badly with the result that you have to fire him, don’t be surprised if you’re slapped with a wrongful retaliation lawsuit. Very often, employees claim that they were never given a chance to rectify themselves, and allege that there were other reasons behind the firing. This only creates a complex and challenging legal situation for you.
Don’t be uncomfortable about informing an employee about aspects of his performance that bother you. Very often, employees are actually looking for valuable feedback to improve themselves. No one is looking for you to skim over their faults and heap praise on them, until such a time that their performance becomes unbearable for you to tolerate. Employees who believe that their performance is good find it surprising when they are handed a pink slip. This leaves them bitter, and looking for revenge.
Schedule performance evaluations for each employee frequently. Be consistent and meticulous about these, and prepare stringently for an evaluation. There must be more than one evaluation conducted during the year. Make it professional and formal, and conduct the evaluation in your office. Avoid an informal occasion like an office party, or a trip with your employee to bring problems with his performance to his notice.