Many years ago, Rick Beal sat down in an office for his yearly review. His manager at the time then proceeded to give him the worst personal review he has ever received in my life. Below Rick tells his story and provides self storage owners tips on how to conduct proper employee evaluations.
I felt like a complete and utter failure, and I was devastated. After the shock of my review was over, I began to read it and discovered how completely inaccurate it was. The more disconcerting matter was the fact that the simple things that I received poor marks for had never been brought to my attention until the time of the review. I asked my manager, “This stuff was no brainer stuff. Why didn’t you just tell me?"
To which she had no real response.
Of course, this affected my pay for the year and ultimately, my direction in the company. Luckily I had a great mentor to help me stay the course, and get me where I am today.
To me, this example epitomizes what is wrong with yearly evaluations. Employees are not given the tools they need. When they are, it is often a surprise and too late. The need for employee evaluations is obvious. They create a platform for a two-way conversation for the growth and change of the employee. There is a better way that the “old school” yearly evaluation. Hopefully, you will be able to discover some helpful ideas to create that platform for your employees.
I want to suggest two performance evaluations per year and two official “feedback” sessions. The performance evaluations would be a more formal written evaluation, and the feedback sessions would be less formal. This way, the employee is getting some manner of feedback every quarter, no matter what.
Giving feedback isn’t an easy thing to do as an employer or manager. Setting up a system like this will force you to commit to a process that ensures you will have conversations every three months with every staff member.
Many companies tie employee evaluations to pay increases. This adds another level of tension to an already tense situation. The purpose of the meeting is to have tough conversations, to encourage, to help, and to engage. When you introduce pay increases into that mix, everything else will become white noise and what matters to the employee will become the focus. I would recommend, if and when, you have pay increases, to have them on the employees hire date.
The goal of performance evaluations is to have no surprises. Thanks to the ongoing feedback meetings, you have encouraged and corrected any issues along the way, the performance reviews now become a much easier meeting to have. They are now a written summary of what you have already identified. All evaluations should be documented, which will help your company if any legal action comes from a former employee. Consider the following ideas when conducting your next evaluation:
Let's discuss the importance of the consistent need for feedback. I was attending a conference, and a speaker referred to feedback as “Feedforward.” The concept is compelling. When you think about it, the idea for feedback is that we want our people to be better in the future. This is a great frame of mind to have as you examine feedback in terms of moving people ahead.
Feedback is one of the biggest paradoxes. People love feedback. It gives them direction, it helps them, and when it is given correctly, it will make an organization into rock stars. If people thrive on it that much, why is it so difficult to give?
Therein lies the paradox! While we love feedback, it’s not easy to give feedback. You fear hurt feelings, causing drama, or feeling uncomfortable. Guess what? You like to know how you are doing in your job, so buck up and do the same to someone else! You must have feedback for your people, and you need to have it often.
Consider these guidelines:
By combining formal reviews and scheduled feedback sessions, you are forcing yourself to do the hard things. It is much easier to have a sit down once a year, give an employee 15 minutes and be done, however, if you are like me, you see a vision of a more significant way to help your employees to be better. I know it isn’t the easy way. I struggle with keeping that vision all the time. Nevertheless, you owe it to your employees to do everything you can to help them become better.