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How to Evaluate a Supervisor: Criteria and Tips for Effective Leadership Assessment


When it comes to evaluating workers, most people are familiar with top-down evaluation. A manager will typically provide evaluations of the people they manage to provide more direction for their work. This is often a critical part of management.

However, the inverse can be just as important. Evaluations that look at a superior from the point-of-view of their subordinates provide a lot of useful information. They indicate how effective the individual’s management techniques are and what can be done to improve them.

This article focuses on supervisor evaluations specifically. It will look at some best practices and tips to keep in mind when planning and conducting them.


What Does It Mean to Evaluate a Supervisor?

Evaluating a supervisor entails exactly what it sounds like it would entail. It means that an employee provides an evaluation of the person who manages them.

This can be as vague or detailed as necessary. The evaluation could simply ask the employee their general thoughts on their supervisor’s performance. However, it could also go into detail about exactly what they do, how they do it, and how the employee feels about them. In either case, asking good questions is key.



Best Practices for a Supervisor Evaluation

While a supervisor evaluation can be incredibly helpful, an improperly designed evaluation will not be. Simply falling into a few key flaws can ruin the effectiveness of the entire evaluation by providing false information or insights that are improperly founded. That is why keeping best practices in mind is essential when giving feedback.

Best practices for a supervisor evaluation include:

Specific and Focused Questions

By providing specific and focused questions, you will be more likely to get a specific and focused answer. Failing to do so may result in answers that aren’t as helpful or that rant about a supervisor’s behavior rather than address the question.

For example, asking, “What do you dislike about your supervisor?” can lead to a long list of potentially unhelpful responses that form a rant. Meanwhile, asking, “What specific behaviors do you dislike about your supervisor?” gets more to the root of the problem.


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Confidentiality

People are more likely to give honest answers when responding confidentially. This is especially true when evaluating superiors, as a lack of confidentiality will lead them to think that their survey responses will lead to a negative response from their superiors.

Make the survey private and accessible: Employees are less likely to complete an evaluation if they have to go out of their way to do it. Making them do it on their own time may also result in them rushing through it. So, try to make the evaluation easily accessible and allow them to do it on the job. In addition, provide them with privacy while they respond so that confidentiality can be maintained.




Explain the Evaluation

Evaluations can sometimes be very confusing. By failing to explain what is expected from the employee, they may fail to complete the evaluation correctly. You can use this opportunity to provide any instruction that is needed and to clarify what you are looking for in the responses, which is a great time to stress the importance of specific and focused information.


Describe the Purpose of the Evaluation

Any evaluation can be intimidating, even if it looks at someone else. If you fail to describe the purpose of the evaluation, your employees will draw their own conclusions. They may think you are considering firing the supervisor in question and, thus, may alter their responses to be more kind to save their job. This will lead to flaws in your data and, thus, is something to avoid.


What to Do After Supervisor Evaluations

After you conduct evaluations, you will have a lot of new information. Now, you need to find out what to do with this information.

Evaluate the Results

The first thing you need to do after conducting an evaluation is to look at the results. If you ask highly quantifiable questions, you can evaluate the data easily. Simply plug it into a program, like Microsoft Excel, and look at the numbers.

If your responses are more qualitative, you may need to translate some of them before they can be useful. For example, a question asking for an opinion about the employee’s supervisor may lead to a long story about when the supervisor was mean and dismissed one of their ideas. From this long answer, you can interpret that the central meaning of the story is that the supervisor may not be as open to ideas as they should be.


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Meet with the Supervisor

Any supervisor evaluation needs to end with a meeting with the supervisor. This should discuss the evaluation results and where all parties should go from that point forward.

At this meeting, try to keep the conversation actionable. Don’t dwell on the successes or failures of the supervisor that came to light over the course of the evaluation. You can and should bring these up, but they shouldn’t be the focus of the entire meeting.

Instead, the focus should be on where to go from that point forward. Together, you can make a plan and set goals to address what the supervisor should do in the future. This will be based on the results of their evaluation and, thus, should be highly individualized.

Examples of plans include:

  • If the supervisor had trouble communicating with their team, they may need instruction in effective communication. You could decide they need to attend communication classes or take a course on communication.

  • If a negative relationship with a subordinate is uncovered, it may need to be addressed. You could schedule a time for them to meet with HR and discuss their issues.

  • If they are having trouble managing remote employees, you can look into solutions together. There may be a tactic or a new technology that can be utilized to improve things.



Effectively Evaluate a Supervisor

It can be a little tricky to evaluate a supervisor. Improperly conducting the evaluation can lead to information that isn’t useful or that has flaws that lead to ineffective decisions being made. Following some of the tips and best practices detailed above will help ensure that any supervisor evaluation you conduct will be effective and helpful.


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