Deliver Effective Evaluations That Make Employees Want To Stay

Why Recognition Is The Most Valuable Benefit A Small Business Can Offer

Don Kermath
5 min readNov 18, 2020


Truth be told I hate giving formal evaluations. I hated receiving them as well. I was a nervous wreck for each and every single one I received. About 20 years ago I decided to ask my staff how effective they felt these formal annual evaluations were. They told me they hate them and that they are a nervous wreck for each and every one.

We stopped doing annual formal evaluations — they are especially worthless for part-time staff.

What is far more effective is Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson’s approach to goals (expectations), reprimands, and praisings (evaluations) as they lay it out in their book The One Minute Manager.

In a nutshell when you make your expectations (goals) crystal clear, no doubt in anyone’s mind, this is the way we want it done, by when, and here’s why, no one is surprised when they are reprimanded or praised for their behavior.

If you wait a year, a quarter, a month, or even a week to praise or reprimand behavior you’ve already missed the chance for either the praise or reprimand to be effective. And you’ve allowed mistakes to fester which cost you tens of thousands in real money and reputation.

Additionally, giving an attagirl or attaboy when the behavior occurs is the cheapest high-value benefit you can offer your part-time staff. Your staff is recognition starved — feed them often and they will be superstars.

Genuine Praise (Recognition) Is A Cheap High-Value Employee Benefit

I love giving praise. Nothing lights up my face like seeing the facial expression of a person I have just praised. You should try it.

Here are the rules for giving praise:

1. Make it genuine. False praise is to your staff what ass-kissing is to you. When you make an effort to catch people doing things right you’ll have no shortage of real praise to give.

2. Make it public, if you can. Unlike a reprimand, which is always done in private, praise is amplified when it is given in public — especially in front of a customer.

3. Make it immediately. People do what they are consistently rewarded for doing. The longer you wait to give the praise, the less positive reinforcing effect it has. Additionally, you don’t want your staff to ever feel like you take them for granted. Good work unrecognized makes you look unappreciative and ungrateful. This is where employee resentment grows.

There you have it: Make it genuine, make it public, and make it immediately. Half the recipe for effective evaluations is to make a million praisings all year long. Make it your job number one to seek out and catch your employees doing things right.

Short Reprimand Of Behavior

There are two main purposes of a reprimand: to correct behavior and to document repeated violations of policy. I wouldn’t bother with the latter if it weren’t necessary to prove cause for terminating an employee. Just like praising, there are rules for giving reprimands:

1. Target the behavior and never the individual — behavior bad, person good.

2. Keep it private. A reprimand done in public is called a shaming, and is not constructive in correcting behavior. A reprimand done in front of a customer is called a lost customer. Don’t do it.

3. Make it quick. Deliver the reprimand as close as possible to when the behavior occurred and spend less than one minute delivering the reprimand.

4. Make it constructive. Describe the offense and the policy it violates.

“You were late for work which violates the Timeliness policy.”

Explain why you have this policy.

“When you are late for work it means your fellow employees have to pick up the slack. They might need to leave work on time for a doctor’s appointment, for example. The customer is underserved when we are understaffed. That could cost us customers which is where we get revenue to pay salaries for all the employees.”

Ask the employee what they are going to do so they are not late to work again. Let them know what repeated violation of the policy means, like possible termination.

5. Leave them feeling valued. Remind them you value them and their work, but you have higher expectations of them. And then let them return to work. The whole thing should take less than one minute.

6. Document the reprimand in the employee’s permanent file. Especially oral reprimands must be documented as you will not remember the who, what, where, why, and how of the behavior.

7. And finally, forgive and forget about it. Do not hold a grudge. Do not stew over the incident. You’ll die young of a heart attack.

Forget The Annual Evaluations

Use a million micro evaluations all year long, both praising and reprimand varieties, to get the most out of your people so they can perform like superstars. Your part-time staff will stay for the long haul because you’ve paid them lavishly in praise and recognition.

What’s Next?

Make expectations (goals) crystal clear — this is the way we want you to do it, by when, and here’s why, so no one is surprised when they are reprimanded or praised for their behavior.

Give immediate genuine praise a million times a year by catching your staff doing things right.

Quickly and privately reprimand undesirable behavior — attack the behavior, not the individual.

Would you like to review the first draft of Recruiting Hiring & Retaining Superstar Part-Time Employees? I’d be in your debt.

Go here, even if you just want a copy and have no time or desire to give your comments:



Don Kermath

Don Kermath transforms your workforce into productive, cohesive, team-players who stay for the long haul and contribute to innovation and excellence on the job.