Staff performance evaluation is our topic this week, finishing our exploration of evaluation activities for nonprofits. We recommend approaching the staff performance review—from the employee and the evaluator point of view—with the same attitude as other nonprofit evaluations—an opportunity for growth.

Employees should use the review to grow professionally, to share training or resource needs and explore future possibilities. Organizations can gain knowledge about employee desires for learning opportunities that can increase staff capacity and better equip your nonprofit to achieve its mission.

Performance evaluations can be a time of anxiety for employees. We’ve all heard about, or experienced, a bad evaluation. They can be a morale killer, staff can feel ambushed or that the process was simply a waste of time. Frequently, the demands of nonprofit work for all staff result in performance evaluations that happen because “it’s that time of year” or “we need that form in your file” and are not done in a thoughtful way, nor are they connected to the work of the organization.

Nonprofits that develop a thoughtful approach to performance reviews can see the results in empowered staff and a more effective organization.

A good review process can help your organization manage talent and grow leaders. It can ensure staff is aligned with organizational goals. Organizations can experience increased productivity. Ultimately, a well-planned and executed review process will increase your staff’s job satisfaction, overall morale and retention.

Mission Box offers a check list for an employee performance review process.

Establish criteria—what will you use to review performance? This should come from job descriptions and from the skill needs of your nonprofit.

Sources of feedback—where will you get information about performance? Supervisors, colleagues, external contacts?

Rating system—develop a numerical system (e.g., 0 to 5, or works well, needs improvement).

Scheduling—when will you do reviews, annually, twice a year, quarterly? Think about time needed and whether compensation is tied to reviews.

Goals—engage your staff in setting goals, reviewing how the individual’s goals connect to the overarching goals of your organization.

Employee input—include opportunities for self-directed reviews from your staff.

Read more about nonprofit employee review best practices here:

Taproot Foundation Best Practices, Employee Evaluation

 Balance Careers Performance Review Tips