What You Can Do as a Small Business Owner During Employee Evaluation
As a small business grows, staying in direct contact with employees can become more difficult on a day to day basis, necessitating strong mangers to be put in place in order to unite different departments and report to the owner of the small business. Along with a larger managerial infrastructure comes more standardized processes of evaluation, including annual or bi-annual formal evaluations that are a fixture of corporate life. While evaluations are usually dreaded on the part of employees, they can be beneficial if handled with competent managers in place who are focused on meeting business goals and not on the idea of exercising power of employees in an arbitrary fashion.
Be willing to answer employee questions. As a small business owner, you realize that your employees work for you, but you may not actively think about the fact that by steering the course of the organization that they work for you are responsible to them as well. Asking questions is generally a good sign among employees, because it shows that they are engaged and interested in their future and that of the business. During reviews, business owners should make themselves available for questions from employees such as “what can I do to improve the work environment?” and “how can my team more effectively coordinate with the rest of our department?” Instead of constantly keeping the heat on your staff, reviews should be seen not only as a time to point out what needs to improve, but to strategize how everyone can contribute more effectively.
Get informed by your managers. If you are going to be meeting with employees with who you have little normal interaction, it can be helpful to get more information from your managers before you meet with in order to ask more thoughtful questions and fully appreciate where their contribution fits into the larger scope of your business. A meeting with your managers before running interviews will help contextualize each interview that you conduct, which is especially important when asking staff about their long term goals and gauging whether or not they are realistic. For example, an employee under pressure may state a set of goals that are far removed from the scope of their actual performance and experience, in which case speaking with their manager to calibrate their goals and guide them into a more useful time spend is an important follow up step. Keep things grounded in reality while encouraging employees to speak up both on the job and outside the office as responsible brand advocates.
Stress improvement and long term goal setting as opposed to disciplinary action. If you or your mangers have identified a problem employee, that obviously calls for disciplinary actions and damage control, but the process of employee review is not primarily intended as a method of cracking down and intimidating staff, rather it should be regarded as simply another tool in a roster of methods for improving processes. Be sure that your employees know this going in to the review process in order to mitigate lost morale and get the most honest feedback from them. If they are defensive and afraid of getting fired, then the exercise of reviews can lose a lot of the benefits it is intended to promote, which include closer team dynamics and clearer communications.
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