Everyone wants feedback about their work performance, including self-storage managers. Offering timely evaluations can drive employee engagement. But what makes for a successful performance review? When should it be delivered and how? These are just a few of the questions to consider as you build your company’s staff-evaluation process.
When to Review
While most of us would like to conduct quarterly employee evaluations, it’s often just not feasible. If you have a small number of employees, you might be able to schedule evaluations more frequently. However, for the majority of self-storage owners, an annual employee review is more practical.
There are a number of ways to determine the timeline for staff evaluations. Many prefer to plan them around the anniversary of the employee’s hire date. Some owners, however, like to conduct evaluations based on the calendar, such as at the end of the year. There’s no right or wrong approach. Do whatever works best for your business and staff.
When scheduling evaluations, set a calendar for all due dates of materials and meetings. It might look like this:
- Dec. 1: Manager should complete the self-evaluation form
- Dec. 10: Supervisor should add personal commentary and recommendations
- Dec. 15: In-person evaluation
- Dec. 18: Final review sent to human resources
This way everyone knows what to expect and how long they have to accomplish the overall process.
Conducting an Evaluation
Evaluations should be done in person. Time should be scheduled in advance so you can focus on the employee, what needs improvement and where performance is outstanding, says AJ Ross, CEO of Universal Storage Group, which offers third-party management services as well as manager and owner training.
Owners should establish a few key objectives that are important and to track them constantly. “There must be clear goals and specific objectives for each store or team. If you’re tracking these common goals and objectives every week, month and quarter, then you’ll have no trouble with annual performance reviews,” Ross says.
The evaluation process should always include documentation. There are hundreds of forms available online that can help you create a quality performance review. Just make sure that whatever you use, it reflects your company’s goals and objectives. The process and any related forms should be easy for you and your managers to understand and complete. Here are some things to include in your review:
Purpose. Add a purpose statement to your documentation, for example:
The following evaluation form is designed to measure the performance of employees and provide an opportunity for the employee and supervisor(s) to discuss job-related performance. This process will help employees become more capable and effective by letting them know what’s expected, how well they’re doing and how they can improve. This evaluation will also be used as a determining factor in the employee’s future with [company name]. An employee’s competency in his/her present job classification may be appraised with a reasonable degree of accuracy and uniformity through this rating report. It’s essential, however, that a careful and objective analysis of performance be undertaken.
Rating scale. Most owners and employees find a simple rating scale to be the easiest way to evaluate performance. Ratings for each factor of a manager’s job should be judged according to the needs of each department and the employee’s job description. Your rating scale might look like this:
- Outstanding (O): Exceptional performance in all areas of responsibility. Planned objectives were achieved well above the established standards and accomplishments were made in unexpected areas.
- Exceeds expectations (EE): Consistently exceeds established standards in most areas of responsibility. All requirements were met and objectives were achieved above the established standards.
- Meets expectations (ME): All job requirements were met and planned objectives were accomplished within established standards. There were no critical areas where accomplishments were less than planned.
- Needs improvement (NI): Performance in one or more critical areas doesn’t meet expectations. Not all planned objectives were accomplished within the established standards and some responsibilities weren’t completely met.
- Doesn’t meet minimum standards (DMMS): Performance is unacceptable. Responsibilities aren’t being met and important objectives haven’t been accomplished. Needs immediate improvement.
If your employee doesn’t agree with a rating received in any area of the evaluation, he may submit a statement of rebuttal. This can be included on the actual form with provided space or as an attachment.
Measurement. Using the rating scale, the evaluation should measure the employee’s performance against a specific set of objectives, projects or job duties taken from the job description and based on departmental needs. You need to identify the goal or job responsibility and add comments as to the level of performance achieved. Also supply concrete examples that support the rating you give. Here’s how it might look:
Have in mind a clear standard of acceptable job skills and performance for each factor given, as these tend to reinforce the performance measured in the goal review.
Performance factors. The review should look beyond the job duties and include an evaluation of overall performance factors, including communication skills, job knowledge, customer-service skills and more. You can use the above rating chart for this section as well. Here’s a sample:
Progress. This will give you and your employee a big-picture view of what’s changed since the last review. Were last year’s objectives met this year? Or are improvements still needed? This section can help you determine what areas may need to be addressed through additional training.
Summary. Add a summary in the performance section to present a brief statement regarding the employee’s overall performance and make specific recommendations for improvements. The employee may also use this section to address areas of concern or disagreement. Additional comments can be made on a separate paper and attached to the evaluation form. If you added any ratings for “doesn’t meet minimal standards,” add detailed comments on where the manager falls short and how he can improve.
Signatures. Lastly, the form should include space for signatures from the employee and owner or supervisor as well as the date the form was completed. The final evaluation form should be added to the employee’s file.
Along with evaluations, create ways recognize achievements within your organization. My company has experienced great success offering a plaque and a $100 bill for each staff member who receives an “annual award of excellence.” It gives managers a great deal of pride to win this award, and some have added their plaques to their office wall, which impresses their customers. Awards can be presented for most leases, lowest delinquents, best improvement and best mystery shops.
The information above will start you on a path of continued improvement with each team member and your organization. This statement is true to form: “What gets measured gets done.” If you share this process with each team member, they’re sure to rise to the occasion and show you improvements each year.
M. Anne Ballard is president of training, marketing and developmental services for Universal Storage Group and the founder of Universal Management Co. She’s president of the Georgia Self Storage Association and has served on the national Self Storage Association’s board of directors. She’s also participated in the planning, design and operation of numerous storage facilities. For more information, call 770.801.1888; visit www.universalstoragegroup.com.