How to Grade Your Employees

Have you ever struggled to evaluate your employee’s performance effectively and provide actionable feedback? Maybe you are unsure of how to grade your employees without coming across as overly critical or unfair. Read 8 Figure Firm’s blog to learn more about how to grade your employees.

Why is it important to grade your employees?

Before you give an employee a performance review, the process of grading that person should first take place.  As a manager, this is an essential task, as it helps to evaluate their performance and provide feedback for improvement. Additionally, as part of an employee development plan here is where a manager can help their staff learn, grow, and advance in a firm.

After receiving feedback and rating their employees, departments can expect to see benefits such as motivated and engaged employees, increased retention of good employees, reduced costs related to recruiting and training new employees, less time dealing with corrective action issues, and positive departmental reputation as a great place to work.

Sounds pretty straightforward right? However, the process can be daunting and challenging, especially if you are unsure of what criteria to use or how to communicate your feedback effectively.

Grading methods 

Let’s take a look at the different types of criteria and rating methods managers can use to grade their employees. 

Graphic Rating Scale

This is probably one of the most popular choices for performance evaluations. This scale lists skills that are required for a certain position and asks the manager to rate the individual on each attribute. The following are sample examples that could be used to grade your employees with this method: A – Exceeds Expectations, B – Meets Expectations, C – Needs Improvement, D – Unacceptable.

Essay Appraisal

This method requires managers to answer a series of questions about an employee’s performance in essay form. These statements may include strengths and weaknesses of the employee or statements about past performance. 

The advantage of this method is that it allows for more freedom for managers to write down their thoughts on how they believe an employee performed during a period. The disadvantage of this method to grade your employees is that if a manager’s writing ability isn’t up to par, then this could affect how effective the evaluation ends up being.

Checklist Scale

The checklist scale is a series of questions that are asked and then answered yes or no. This method to grade your employees is simple and fast but does not allow for more detailed answers and analysis of the performance criteria. Another way of using this scale is to check marks in the criteria the employee meets, and a blank in the areas the employee does not meet.

An example of the challenge with this format’s limitations could be: “Did they meet their goals?” Yes or no? What if they met some of their goals?

Critical Incident Appraisals

It’s important to have a method of evaluation that is both fair and effective to grade your employees. While this method may seem time-consuming, it can provide specific examples of behavior, which will make it easier for managers to grade employees. 

The way it works is when a manager records examples of the employee’s effective and ineffective behavior during the period between evaluations. Later, when it’s time for the employee to be reviewed, the manager will pull out this file and formally record the incidents that occurred over the period. 

For this method to work well, the manager should have the proper tools to record incidents, e.g. weekly reports. Moreover, it is important to remember not only to record negative incidents but also positive ones. Keep in mind that recognizing these accomplishments can help boost the motivation of your employees. 

Work Standards Approach

This method is probably most effective in those positions where productivity is the most important factor. With this results-focused approach, managers set a minimum level for employee performance to measure. For instance, if a certain employee does not meet a required goal, this would be recorded as nonperforming.

The main drawback of this method is that it does not allow for reasonable deviations. This is why this approach works best in long-term situations. Additionally, since this approach is centered on productivity, it doesn’t allow for the rating of other factors, such as the ability to work in a team or communication skills, which of course are also an important part of the job.

Ranking Methods

When ranking employees in a particular department, this comparative system will allow managers to do so based on the employees’ value to the company. A manager will have a list of all employees and then decide which employee should go first, second, third… etc.

The first step is choosing which employee is most valuable; this person would go to the top of the list. Next, the manager needs to choose which employee is least valuable; this person would go to the bottom of the list.

Let’s keep in mind that this method to grade your employees may not work in large organizations due to the possibility of bias, where managers may not interact with each person on a day-to-day basis. Furthermore, to make this type of evaluation most valuable, each supervisor should use the same criteria to rank each individual.

Management by Objectives

This concept developed by Peter Drucker consists of the manager and employee sitting down together and developing objectives for a specific time, and both parties will discuss what the employee hopes to accomplish. When the evaluation time comes, the manager and employee will review whether the goals were met or not. 

The advantage of this method is that it gives managers a chance to discuss goals with their employees in an open setting. This method is best applied for positions that require more thinking and creativity than just following orders without any input from their superiors.

Employee grading may seem like a difficult task at first. But with the right information on the various grading methods, you’re bound to streamline the grading process with ease.

Speak to the Experts

At 8 Figure Firm, we understand that employees perform at different levels. By grading your employees effectively, you can assign tasks and manage expectations much more clearly. Our ONE.Coach program is designed to take you and your team to the top.

If you’re ready to take your law firm to the next level, register for ONE.Coach today. We’ll help you turn your law firm into a law business.