On a daily basis, companies are confronted with a myriad of situations that have a significant influence on the overall morale of the organization. However it appears nothing presents a greater obstacle to organizations than maintaining a healthy professional relationship among managers and employees. Add in the mix of the often dreaded performance evaluation and the manager-employee relationship becomes even more complex. Though feelings on the effectiveness of performance evaluations differ, it is nonetheless an event many are eager to see conclude before the evaluations even begin.

It’s not that performance evaluations are inherently bad, quite the contrary. The specific purpose guiding their adoption in almost every company was intended to provide an opportunity for management and the employee to identify barriers to job success and work towards removing them. However over the course of time, mountains of paperwork, and a lack of understanding about the performance evaluation process on from both sides has caused performance evaluations to evolve into a process to be feared by the employee, and just another annoying task for management to deal with.

Unfortunately, given these circumstances, performance evaluations do not often lead to increased productivity, stronger management-employee relationships, or overall job success. Instead they elicit feelings of resentment from both parties, and can at times lead to heated discussions if one side feels attacked or treated unfairly. However, efforts can be made on behalf of both the manager and the employee in order to have greater success with performance evaluations. In particular, the employee can have a sincere impact on the course of the evaluation by avoiding the pitfalls of the process.

According to there are seven mistakes employees do during a performance evaluation that lead to less than desirable outcomes. First, employees should stop focusing on the appraisal forms because they don’t matter. Instead, it is the practice of engaging with your manager, receiving feedback, working towards greater success that really matters, not the paper. Second, employees often neglect to prepare beforehand. Specifically, this can lead to being a reactive participant or passive participant, neither of which helps you or the company. Third, employees often go into performance evaluations defensive. Rather, if employees feel that things are being overlooked or management is overly critical, the employee should deliver their message in a calm, factual manner, explaining their position.

Fourth, employees do not typically communicate with their manager regarding their performance outside of the evaluation process. Even if managers do not create opportunities for issues to be discussed, it is important that employees make and effort and do so. Fifth, employees often fail to have their manager clarify. It is essential that if something is unclear during the evaluation, that the employee quickly receives clarification in order to prevent any confusion in the future. Sixth, employees usually allow the manager to conduct the evaluation, permitting one-sidedness. On the other hand, if employees took it as an opportunity to work with their manager effectively the evaluation would be more productive.

And finally, given the fact that the outcome of a performance evaluation in the majority of companies is closely tied to raises and bonuses, many employees only see the value in the evaluation to the extent that it is their ticket to an increase in income, or in other cases a barrier. Though pay is an important issue, it is essential for employees to refer back to their successes over the year in order to share this information with their manager during the evaluation. Ultimately if employees approach performance evaluations as an opportunity to identify their weaknesses, work with management to develop strategies to overcome them, come prepared with factual information about their successes, do not allow their emotions to sabotage them, and participate throughout the performance evaluation, such behaviors would likely garner greater evaluation results rather than sitting back and allowing fear to impede success.