Tactics for Delivering Better Employee Evaluations

2012 is over and with a bit of tongue- and-cheek I say yippee we are still here! We are moving swiftly along with planning and executing strategies for a successful 2013.

Employee Evaluation Tips for Retailers

In any business the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect on the past year and make needed changes while planning for the future. This is especially true in retail as January and February can be ghost towns at traditional retail centers.

One of the most important pieces of analysis you can put together at this time is your staffing analysis and plan.

This includes everything from ensuring you have the right number of folks, to ensuring the right folks are in the right positions, to ensuring your compensation plan is competitive, to ensuring they are appropriately trained, and to ensuring they are fully engaged in their positions. The last piece….engagement….that is the challenging piece. It is also the most important if you want to run the most profitable business you can.

Why Give Formal Evaluations?

There are many different surveys and studies that identify which tactics engage employees most effectively. The most well known is the Gallup Employee Engagement Index which identifies that one of the most important things to employees in all walks of life want is getting recognition for a job well done.

Gallup has also used decades of employee engagement research to develop what they call the "12 Elements of Great Managing." What is important to note is that four of the twelve elements speak to receiving feedback and development from managers who care.

Restated 25% of what makes great managers great in their employee’s eye is the ability to engage employee learning and development, to give valid and consistent feedback, and in doing so, prove to the employee that their best interest is considered and cared about.

Tactics for Effective Formal Evaluations

Formal evaluations are very challenging. As a result they tend to be one of the more dreaded tasks that managers and store operators need to accomplish. There are some tactics you can employee to both make the process easier and more effective.

Create a Drop File.

If you are like most businesses you give a formal evaluation once or at most twice a year. That means you are giving feedback for a large period of time encompassing many months. If you are like most folks it is tough to remember what your team members were doing last month let alone six months ago. Because this is human nature, managers will tend to give reviews that are heavily skewed by what the employee has done most recently.

A drop file is a fantastic help:

  • Simply create a file for each of your team members.
  • Set aside some time each week to write down two positives and two negatives about each employee on a small piece of paper.
  • Be sure to be detailed and date the papers.
  • Drop those slips into your file.

When it is time for reviews you now have a true and realistic picture of how the employee performed over time. These little notes will jog your memory about positive and negative items that can and should be addressed. The review is much more valid and will be more accepted by the employee because you will be using real life examples with dates and outcomes.

Use a Self Evaluation Tool.

One very productive activity that a manager can have their team participate in is performing self evaluations. I recommend using the same formal evaluation for both the self evaluation and the manager’s feedback.

This tool gives the managers a fantastic window into how the employee views their own performance. It allows for a healthy conversation when there are differences in perspective.

Be sure to include a section where you ask the employee to list the items they wish to work on during the next review period. This gives the employee ownership in their own development and will make them more likely to engage in whatever training or learning activities you will use to help improve that skill.

Include performance goals in your daily conversations.

Conversations about expectations and goals should happen daily. Employees should be aware of a focused on the results that are expected.

If you are good at giving daily and weekly informal feedback the review process becomes simple. The employees will not be surprised by anything that is in the review and their self evaluation should be similar to the formal review the manager completes. If the managers review and the employee’s self evaluation are drastically different that means that the manager is not keeping the employee in the loop frequently enough.

Don’t be late!

Employee Evaluation Tips

It is common in retail for reviews to be delivered late. I have taken over more than one territory (and once an entire company employee pool) where performance reviews were inconsistently delivered, delivered months and months late or sometimes not at all. In every one of those situations I inherited a very tough environment with some very disengaged employees.

I can’t state more clearly how important it is to deliver these evaluations on time. When you choose to be late on a performance review to an employee you are in essence telling them that their performance is not important to you or the company. You are also holding up their chances at earning extra income because in most companies raises and wage reviews are dependent on completing the formal evaluation.

These are just a few tactics to help ensure a more productive employee evaluation process. Employees are clamoring for development and they are most engaged with managers that deliver consistent training and feedback.

Tina is an experienced retail strategy consultant who has held a variety of retail management positions in her 20 years in the industry.