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The Why, When and How of Self-Storage Staff Evaluations

The Why, When and How of Self-Storage Staff Evaluations
Employees and supervisors tend to bristle over performance reviews, but staff evaluations are critical to business success. Here’s why, as well as how and when to conduct them.

Where do you stand on the issue of self-storage staff evaluations? I conducted a survey within my own organization and found most employees welcome the interaction with their supervisor or owner. Though many are a bit nervous to hear negative feedback, most admit performance reviews are a necessary evil to achieve company growth.

There’s a an appropriate quote from Shari Harley, founder and president of international training and consulting firm Candid Culture, that I think helps put things in the proper context: “Each of us, regardless of title and level in the organization, is 100 percent accountable for our happiness, success and satisfaction at work—not our boss and not our company.” This is a good frame of mind from which to approach evaluations. Keeping these interactions upbeat will yield better results.

Let’s examine why performance reviews are so essential, as well as when and how to conduct them.

Why Review

The goal of the staff-review process is really two-fold. One aim is to examine an employee’s job description and evaluate his performance and function within that context, while the other is to assess how he contributes to overall company performance. Reviews are designed to show employees where they shine and identify areas for improvement. If you tell a team member he’s “perfect” and never specify areas for growth, he’s likely to become complacent. I believe there’s always something new to learn in any job.

Some companies have employees write a self-evaluation each year, which can provide great insight to the areas in which they believe they’ve made gains or have deficits, as well as how they view their own accomplishments. Regardless of who writes them, though, performance reviews help reveal who’s highly motivated and takes initiative, which helps you assess how employees contribute to company performance, which creates an understanding of when and why staff should receive rewards, including raises.

When your self-storage business has been outperforming expectations, this a scenario that often leads to deserved pay increases for staff. The uncomfortable flip side is when you have to share that company performance is below projections, and though the team may have done a great job, raises won’t be given. It’s also possible the company hasn’t met expectations, but a pay increase is warranted anyway based on staff accomplishments. Conducting evaluations helps clarify all these decisions.

Reviews may also help build positive attitudes or correct negative or incorrect behaviors that could become detrimental to the organization. They’re like road maps in that they show employees where they’ve been, where they are, where they should be headed and how to get there.

When to Review

Most self-storage companies review employees annually. New staff members may be reviewed after a 90-day probation period to determine how well they’re settling into their position as well as to reinforce the company’s vision and their role within it.

Reviews should be conducted on or very close to the anniversary of an employee’s hire date. This creates consistent expectations and allows everyone to prepare. Conducting evaluations on a schedule also demonstrates that you recognize the significance of the process and emphasizes the employee’s importance to the company.

How to Review

When it comes to evaluations, presentation is everything! Most companies have a formal format and process to follow, which often involves a form to complete. The form typically allows the supervisor to score the employee on various performance measurements. It should also include a place for the evaluator to write comments describing the reason for each rating.

Your evaluation should assess criteria such as the employee’s dependability, job knowledge, work productivity, cooperation, initiative, ability to meet deadlines and anything else that’s important to your organization. It should point out limitations as well as talents. If you note deficiencies, address how to bolster them.

A detailed performance evaluation will take time and effort. Unless this is an employee’s first, the previous year’s assessment should be used as a reference. Go back and review any previous notes for improvement. You’ll need to reflect on the employee’s year and any notes in his file regarding accolades or disciplinary action. It’s important to be as specific as possible, which is why making notes on strengths and weaknesses throughout the year is helpful. For example, let the employee know you’ve seen his outstanding Google reviews, or about the complimentary phone call you received from a satisfied tenant.

Give the employee every opportunity to interact with you, so the evaluation is more of a conversation than a one-way monologue. The more you engage, the more likely he’ll want to set higher goals for the coming year. All staff want to feel like they’ve had input into setting their objectives, no matter what job they have. As Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS Institute, has said, “Treat employees like they make a difference, and they will.”

Follow Up

Due to the time and money every organization invests in its employees, follow-ups to staff evaluations are a must! It’s a simple task that shows your team just how important they are to you and the entire company. If your people have no goals for which to strive, their jobs will become boring and unsatisfying. Ensuring growth for everyone will keep them interested and happy.

Diane Gibson is the owner and president of Cox’s Armored Mini Storage Management Inc., which manages self-storage facilities in Arizona. Currently president of the Arizona Self Storage Association, she’s participated in roundtables and panels at the organization’s conferences. For more information, email [email protected]; visit www.armored-mini-storage.com.

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