Expert Advice

By Hannah Wallace October 31, 2005

Q. What should I do when an employee refuses to sign his evaluation?Jennifer B. Compton Esq. While ideally an employer would obtain the employee's signature on an evaluation, there is no legal requirement to do so. An employee should be given the opportunity to review the results of his or her evaluation. If, after meeting with the employee to review the evaluation, the employee refuses to sign the evaluation, a note to the file should be made and affixed to the file indicating that the employer met with the employee to review the evaluation, noting specifically the time, date, location and those in attendance, that the employee was requested to sign the evaluation but refused. That is enough of a record to protect the employer against an employee unwilling to sign., shareholder in the employment law practice group at the law firm of Abel Band, weighs in:

Evaluations that are honest and realistic can protect the employer. For instance, an evaluation based on a job analysis specific to an employee's job carries much more weight than a one-size-fits-all evaluation. Evaluations based on job standards previously conveyed to the employee are much more valuable. Where a reviewer has been trained in evaluations, and the evaluation was actually reviewed by a higher level of management, the evaluation is a much stronger tool.

The concern is thus not whether the employee will sign the evaluation, but whether the evaluation is honest. If so, regardless of signature, the employer is afforded much greater protection.

Jennifer B. Compton can be reached at (941) 364-2754.

Q. As a manager in a large nonprofit organization, how can I better let my employees know that their opinions matter? A recent newsletter from the Nonprofit Resource Center, a program of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, addressed this very question: In the nonprofit sector, it is especially important to make sure employees feel connected to their managers. Wages may not be as high as in the for-profit sector, but nonprofit organizations offer the incredible incentive of being mission-driven; employees get to take an active role in improving the health of our community's environment, children, art programs and so much more.

According to Getting Employees to Fall in Love with Your Company by Jim Harris, when managers connect with their employees, employees know their opinions matter and feel free to speak up about concerns or successes.

Here are a few suggestions for getting your employees connected and helping them stay connected:

Organize a specific time and place for staff members to connect, such as a scheduled weekly meeting where each person (from the director to the administrative assistant) has the opportunity to share news and successes as well as voice concerns.

Let your employees know you are available to assist when a team effort is required. Although employees are ultimately accountable for their own set of responsibilities, managers should communicate that no job is too small or insignificant for the manager to lend a helping hand.

Provide occasional opportunities for socializing. Whether you treat your employees to lunch once each month or set up after-hours activities for employees and their families, these opportunities communicate that the manager is interested in "Jane the human being," not just "Jane the technology assistant."

Conduct frequent performance appraisals that work both ways. Commend your employees on what they are doing right, and offer training opportunities or suggestions to help them address weaknesses. Allow employees to comment on their level of job satisfaction and their thoughts about your management.

The Nonprofit Resource Center can be reached at

If you have a workplace-related question you'd like to ask the experts, please e-mail Ilene Denton at [email protected]

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