While employers in Wisconsin are not required to give their workers evaluations—or even keep personnel files—they are wise to do them anyway, despite the extra effort involved.
“I recommend to employers that they do them, but do them thoughtfully,” said attorney Ellen Frantz. “Don’t just go through the exercise and check the boxes.”
She offers five tips for effective evaluations:
#1 If you say you give evaluations, give evaluations. “Many people say they are informal, but they do them,” she said. “Then I hear from employees after they were terminated that they hadn’t had an evaluation in three years.
#2 Look for both positive and growth areas for your employees. “This could motivate employees. Look at the positives along with what workers can do to improve,” she said. “Employees are motivated when supervisors tell them they are doing something well. Then they want to do well and are more likely to be happy about where they work and the people they work with."
#3 Don’t ignore problems. Often supervisors don’t deal with difficult issues because they don’t want to hurt feelings. “Don’t avoid it. If it is a problem, you need to address it. Document problems and indicate how you worked to correct them," Frantz said.
#4 It should be a process. “It’s not a matter of completing a form and sticking it in the files. Have a discussion,” she said. “Talk about what the employee does well, their goals and ways for them to achieve those professional goals. It should be an interactive discussion."
#5 Follow through. “If you’ve gone through this process and talked about further training, provide it. If there are problems, set goals for improvement and checkpoints along the way.”
While there is no standard way to do evaluations, Frantz said, “it can be a vehicle for improvement.”
Information provided by Ellen Frantz,, La Crosse employment lawyer at Johns, Flaherty & Collins. For an employment attorney in La Crosse, contact her at 608-784-5678.