Employee performance evaluation

Best Practices for Self-Storage Employee Evaluations

The key to ensuring your self-storage employees are performing to their full potential is regular staff evaluations. Here’s how to conduct better performance reviews.

A successful self-storage business begins with good employees. From management to maintenance, we want the strongest, most effective team possible running our ship. So, how do we ensure everyone is performing to their full potential? The key is staff evaluations.

While open, daily communication between management and personnel is important in terms of coaching and facilitating growth, formal reviews are fundamental for short- and long-term improvement. They provide a structured way for everyone to be on the same page regarding expectations. When the entire team understands what’s expected of them and what they can do to meet or surpass goals, they’ll have a much better chance of success, and so will your business.

The general purpose of a performance evaluation is to refocus your team. Ultimately, there are three goals for which to strive. Let’s discuss those, as well as some best practices for conducting employee reviews.

Goal 1: Open Communication

It’s vital to discuss performance expectations to ensure all employees are aware of their job requirements as well as the goals set for them individually and the business as a whole. This open communication isn’t only an opportunity for you to give valuable feedback to employees, it’s a chance for them to provide feedback to you, voice concerns, and ask for clarification on policies or standards.

Establishing a two-way conversation signals to your employees that they aren’t simply being judged; they’re part of the improvement process. The better they understand their job requirements, the more likely they are to know what specifically is needed from them on the job. This empowers them to self-assess their daily work.

Goal 2: Identify Training Needs

Even the best employees have areas in which they can improve. Performance evaluations are an excellent opportunity to acknowledge where staff is excelling, but they’re also the prime time to look at areas that need enhancement. Making employees aware of ways in which they can do better, and then creating a plan to help them meet these new goals, is key to getting them where you want them to be.

It’s always important to provide ongoing suggestions and corrections throughout the year, particularly if there’s a mistake that should be corrected on the spot. The evaluation period is a time to look at the bigger picture of how everyone is doing. Be transparent in your expectations so employees know where they should focus their efforts in the coming year. Provide them with the necessary tools and a plan as to how to really thrive in those areas.

Goal 3: Motivate Exceptional Work

Evaluations are a literal assessment of work and whether it meets the standards you’ve set for your establishment. In addition to identifying places where employees could use reinforcement training, they’re an excellent way to acknowledge the great things being done by certain individuals.

Letting employees know you see the hard work they’re doing and that you want to reward them can be a huge motivator. When people feel they’re putting in a lot of effort but not being recognized, it can lead to decreased morale and worse performance over time. So, use your evaluation period to give hearty praise to those who deserve it, and incite the energy and drive to keep them doing great work. Good morale is contagious and leads to overall success.

Evaluation Best Practices

Delivering excellent evaluations for your star employees is no challenge at all. It’s always nice to let people know they’re performing at top levels. Unfortunately, we all must give less than ideal reviews at times. For either situation, there are basics you should follow to ensure every employee has a firm understanding of where he stands, what he can do to improve, and what to expect in the post-evaluation period.

First, create a process that’s fair and bias-free for all. If employees sense any sort of favoritism or think evaluations are being performed inconsistently, you’ll lose credibility. Make clear the methods you’ll use to conduct reviews and stick to them. By following a structured scoring system and pairing it with specific examples of things done right and wrong, you can show your appraisal is based in fact. This will help you gain respect and integrity in the eyes of your staff.

It’s also important not to generalize. Be clear about the exact performance you’ve seen up to that point and what you expect the employee to continue, stop or begin. If the review is leaning in a negative direction, refrain from lessening the poor behavior and make it clear what needs to change. Take advantage of this face-to-face conversation and make the demands necessary to encourage stronger achievement.

Finally, remember that evaluations are a great time to give praise and acknowledge accomplishments and strengths. Annual reviews shouldn’t be a dreaded time for you or your staff. Instead, view them as an opportunity to highlight the great work your team has done and polish skills.

Some people expect raises to be tied to annual reviews. If increases are given based on performance, use a set schedule. Structured evaluations that are fair to all employees and maintain transparency will ultimately lead to stronger task execution and a constantly evolving work environment.

Susan Haviland is the owner of Haviland Storage Services and a partner of industry consulting and training firm Self Storage 101. She has more than 28 years of industry experience, from serving as a site manager to acting as vice president of operations at Extra Space Storage Inc. and Price Self Storage. She's a frequent speaker at industry conferences and tradeshows. For more information, call 866.360.2621; visit www.selfstorage101.com

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