At the very least, conduct evaluations once a year. Throughout the year, keep record of employees’ performances. Use e-mail communications, site visits and inspection reports to help build a full overview. It’s impossible to remember everything, so make a concerted effort to note successes and failures through the work year to be recalled easily during the evaluation period.
Ask other employees and supervisors for input when piecing together the annual evaluation, especially if they work more directly with the employee than you. This also enables you to create a balanced and objective review.
Before sitting down with the employee, go over your documents so you are fully prepared and don’t overlook important points to share—for better or worse.
Self-storage management duties are possibly more varied than a lot of management positions. Facility managers must possess good customer service skills, have superior sales abilities, be skilled at collection calls and the lien-sale process, oversee daily office operations and be handy at maintenance.
It may be difficult to find an employee evaluation sheet that fits the self-storage manager’s job duties to a T. Get your hands on a good generic evaluation form and “tweak” it to fit your facility and the manager’s job duties. You might find one on the Internet or through a software program, but you can also elect to outsource your evaluation task to a human resource company.
When the paperwork is complete and you are comfortably knowledgeable with the materials you’ll share with the employee during an evaluation, call him and schedule a time to meet in your office. This sets a tone of serious importance in addition to guaranteeing you’ll have privacy and few interruptions, not an easy thing to do when the phone is ringing or tenants are coming and going.
Plan 30 to 60 minutes of dedicated time with each individual. Be sure to give each employee a personal copy of the evaluation to read along with you, and then have each employee sign your copy of the review. This will become part of their employment file, and should be pulled again to compare with next year’s evaluation form.
During your evaluation, ask the employee for input. Are there areas he would like the company to improve upon, such as the work environment, company policies or procedures? Maybe your assistant manager knows how to build a better mouse trap and streamline operations. Be prepared to listen and act on any productive ideas generated from these meetings, which can improve operations simultaneous to strengthening your employer/employee relationship. If you empower your employees this way, they are more apt to take the job seriously, which can never hurt when they stand at the frontline—dealing with tenants every day.
Finally, an evaluation is a good time to reward deserving employees with a raise. That’s not to say a raise is expected or required, but it does afford you the opportunity to reward some with an hourly raise or a bonus, or even redesign your existing bonus program. Remember, conducting employee performance evaluations are not always an easy task. It takes time and thought to prepare and conduct them correctly, but you’ll find it is usually a positive and rewarding experience for both you and your employees.
Pamela Alton-Truitt is the owner of Mini-Management, a nationwide manager-placement service. The company also offers full-service and operations-only facility management, training manuals, inspections and audits, feasibility studies, consulting and training seminars. For more information, call 800.646.4648.