The Perkins Law team just completed its annual evaluation process. It is truly one of the highlights of the year for me as a small business owner. I realize that with only one employee, the process is much easier to manage at Perkins Law than it is for most companies. In any event, here are a few tips that have worked well here that I think would translate well for companies of all sizes:
- Put it on the Calendar and Make it a Priority. Too many small businesses do not offer regularly scheduled evaluations at all. This is a mistake. Both sides benefit from annual evaluation meetings in both tangible and intangible ways. Make this part of your annual business calendar and let your employees know it. Prepare in advance of the meeting. Don’t just “wing it” because your employee will notice in a heartbeat. Unless your office building catches on fire or FBI agents show up at your doorstep to execute a search warrant, do not cancel, postpone, or otherwise reschedule the evaluation meeting. Make it a priority. Never forget that a talented and loyal work force is THE lifeblood of any successful business.
- Make it Interactive. The annual evaluation should not be a one-way conversation. Make it interactive. Not only do I complete an evaluation form, but I ask my employee to complete a self-evaluation form. This accomplishes several important things. First, it helps ensure we are both on the same page in terms of expectations, goals, strategic objectives, and performance of the business. Second, it gives my employee an opportunity to offer new ideas and suggestions for improvement and also to make requests for things that will help her do her job better. As an employer, part of my job is to put my employee in the best position succeed in her job. Why? Because her success translates into a more profitable business. Third, talented, dedicated employees want (and deserve) to feel valued, appreciated, and respected, and an interactive evaluation process is a great way to accomplish those objectives.
- Be Constructive and End on a High Note. Nobody is perfect. Everyone can improve. Most talented and ambitious employees want to improve. So, as part of any evaluation, be sure to offer your employees constructive ideas on how they can improve or advance their careers at your company. Inspire them to share your vision for the future of the business and to always strive for improvement. I always end the evaluation meeting with an announcement of annual bonus and/or raise for the next year. Some years, I am more creative than others in my method of delivery, but the goal is to end the meeting on a positive note of appreciation for what has been accomplished the preceding year and optimism for what the new year might offer.
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