“Am I going to get a review anytime soon?”
Every owner dreads this question. It’s right up there with, “How long has it been since you had your prostate checked?”
Employee reviews seem to be one of those things we agree are important and are fully aware we need to do, but, for some reason, we hate doing them.
Picture yourself sitting behind your desk with the door closed staring at one of your team members. You see this person every day and you usually never have any trouble conversing with them about sports, their family, the truck they drive, job site problems, material lists, and unusual circumstances regarding the occasional crazy customer; yet, today, you’re sitting there speechless. All because you know it’s expected that once a year you officially sit down with everyone who works for you to discuss their future with the company and that pesky little subject that always seems to come up at the very end of the conversation, the expected pay raise. Please allow me to assure you that it really doesn’t need to be this way. With a little advanced planning and some forethought — unlike that exam I mentioned — employee reviews can be something everyone looks forward to.
ASSESSING THE NEED
Are you still questioning the need for reviews in your company? I hope not. Everyone in your company deserves to know and understand the direction the company is headed and their role in the company’s future. At every level, team members are just that: members of a team. They want to know what their goal is (shooting a ball in a hoop or kicking it through the uprights) and what the score is (are we winning the game?). The question is as simple as, “where is the company headed, and am I helping or hurting the effort?” If you have the right people in place, they are always keeping these questions in the back of their minds. It’s nice if you have the answer every once in a while. Done right, the review process can be a relaxed and positive experience. I’m no expert, by any means, but I’m happy to share the process in our company.
TWICE A YEAR
We have reviews twice a year: in the fall, after things have calmed down a bit, and in the spring, before things start getting out of control. It’s understood that the fall meeting is a mid-term check and the spring meeting is more involved, as that’s when the money is discussed.
The fall meeting serves as an informal review and allows the manager and employee to discuss how things have been since the last official meeting. This meeting usually starts with the simple question, “How’s it going?” We then take a look at any decisions made or areas of concern that were addressed or discussed last spring. This is a good time to be more relaxed and talk about family and personal life. It also serves as a good time to bring to mind any training, certifications, or changes of behavior that may need to occur by next spring to trigger an increase in pay. Typically, as the owner, I’m involved in these meetings. A manager always attends, as well. As we grow, my vision is to take the role of an observer and allow the manager to drive the discussion. I always have the manager excuse themselves and give the employee an opportunity to talk with me personally.
The spring meeting is more involved. Two weeks prior to the meeting, an evaluation sheet is handed out to the employee and his or her supervisor or manager. This evaluation asks questions that rate the team member on performance, attitude, dependability, integrity, and willingness to learn. We ask each employee to rate his or her own performance and his or her manager’s. This way, we get an idea of how they view themselves, and we get their perspective on management. As far as the management reviews are concerned, team members are given the option of including their names or withholding them, if they wish. I review and read the comments to the managers during their reviews and, if any issues need clarification, I handle that during that individual’s review. I’m not sure how honest employees are about management, but at least I ask. An additional sheet is handed out asking what subjects the employee would want to discuss. We also ask them to jot down a few things they really like about the company and any changes they would like to see. Managers are asked to rate the people in their department. After these evaluations are completed, I meet with the managers to discuss the team members in their departments. We decide what needs to be discussed and who will discuss it. We also look at all the factors surrounding pay and make a decision on a raise, if appropriate. When the time for the meeting comes around, there should be no surprises. We know what will be discussed and have agreed to where we think the conversation will go. Of course, until we get into the conversation, we really don’t know. If you are the owner and the manager, the process is the same, less the prior manager meeting. And, if you’re wondering who reviews me, well, that would be my wife. But, seriously, one of the questions we ask is, “If there is anything we could be doing that would be better in the company?” During the review, I usually ask if they have any comments about me. Again, they are free to be as honest as they dare.
So, what exactly are we trying to accomplish here? My goal is to make sure everyone in the company understands the mission and vision of the company and how they fit into that mission. It’s important to make sure they know that they are an integral piece of the puzzle and of our mutual success. They need to know that, without them, our customers are not served, and we have no real purpose.
In life, most people are wandering around searching for their place in this world and trying to make a difference. If you think about it, most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work. If you are not purposely setting time aside to communicate what’s expected of people and how they can succeed in their place of work, I suspect they may be looking for a place where they can get those questions answered a little easier.
Publication date: 6/6/2016