Sponsored By

Support Fairness First: When Reviewing Self-Storage Employees, Impartiality Avoids Liability

A recent lawsuit in which a former self-storage manager was awarded money for "improper firing" underscores the importance of carrying out regular, fair staff reviews. Here's some guidance on why employee evaluations are critical to your facility’s success and how conduct them.

Amy Campbell

June 18, 2015

3 Min Read
Support Fairness First: When Reviewing Self-Storage Employees, Impartiality Avoids Liability

By Amy Campbell  

Last week, Mini Price Storage in Virginia took a serious financial hit after a judge ordered the company to pay a former employee $150,730 for “improper firing.” The storage operator also has to cover attorneys’ fees and court costs. The judge ruled Mini Price’s former manager, Sean Mohammed, a Seventh-Day Adventist, was fired in retaliation for his refusal to work during Sabbath hours, from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

In short, when Mohammed was hired by Mini Price in 2007, he informed the company he was able to work every day except Saturday. All was well until his schedule was changed in 2010 by a new area manager. Although Mohammed declined to work on Saturdays and his “no Saturdays” schedule was reinstated, it set off a chain of events that, ultimately, led to him being fired for “lack of performance and lack of work” just six months later. You can read more about it here. Members of Self-Storage Talk (SST), the industry’s biggest online community, are also discussing the lawsuit.

A number of legal and staffing issues came to mind after I read about this case. However, one thing that stuck with me the most was this information: the review form the area manager used to document Mohammed’s work performance following his refusal to work on Saturdays wasn’t the same one used for other company employees. What? The supervisor had a “special” form just for this one employee? That doesn’t make sense. Worse, it’s unethical and, in this case, aided Mohammed in his quest to prove he was fired without cause.

Even more disturbing, the judge noted several mystery-shop evaluations between 2008 and 2010 deemed Mohammed an “excellent” employee. One evaluation even described him as “providing the best experience across all of Mini Price.” Hardly seems like a manager who’s suffering from “lack of performance.”

As this case shows, when and how you evaluate your employees is critical. Not only can reviews help storage owners and supervisors track poor work performance, they also aid in highlighting employees who are doing excellent, which can boost work performance and even help retain great managers.  

Unfortunately, many owners shy from carrying out staff evaluations for a variety of reasons. If you have employees and haven’t conducted a review in the last 12 months, it’s time to schedule some. If you’re not sure where to start, the article “Taking the Suspense and Drama Out of Evaluating Your Self-Storage Employees” offers guidance on why it’s critical to your facility’s success and how to do it.

While most companies depend on annual reviews to evaluate staff performance, more frequent, “mini” reviews—if you will—can be beneficial as well. They can serve as ongoing dialogues between supervisors and employees. Not all conversations have to be a formal review, but a paper trail is a must, even if it’s just a check-in to evaluate an employee’s progress. Consider creating a longer review form for annual evaluations, but toss in a few shorter ones that can be used in between. One note of caution: the same review process should be used for all employees. If there does come a time when you need to terminate an employee, here’s some advice on doing it the right—and fair—way.

Managers, if you haven’t had a review since the last presidential election, it’s way past due. While many employees fear reviews—myself included—you need to see them from a different angle. Rather than view it as a “look what you’re doing wrong” assessment, think of it as a way to improve. Let’s be honest, we all have room for improvement. And if you’re confident that you’re amazing and doing a great job, wouldn’t it be nice to be told so?

How does your self-storage business handle staff evaluations? Add a comment below or on Self-Storage Talk in the “Staffing” forum.

About the Author(s)

Amy Campbell

Editor, Inside Self Storage

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter
ISS is the most comprehensive source for self-storage news, feature stories, videos and more.

You May Also Like