A Shop Owner’s Guide to Employee Reviews

One of the most common questions we hear from shop owners is regarding how often they should perform employee reviews. I would like to use this article to not only answer that question but to provide you with a guide that will enable you to perform reviews that will keep your employees happy and productive.

Putting first things first, let’s start with new hires. With every new employee, during their orientation, you should clearly outline the company goals, their personal goals, the goals of the position, the minimum levels of acceptable performance, and the relative deadlines. You will also need to let the employee know how you will monitor and measure their productivity, and how you will be reviewing their performance as well as their compliance with company policies. With every new employee, the most critical period will be the first 90 days; it is during this probationary period when you should be evaluating and making your decision regarding whether they are the right fit for your company. This is why we at Elite feel it is critical to review your employees most frequently within the first 90 days.

With all new hires, during the first week, I strongly encourage you to perform a short 15-minute review at the end of each day. This end-of-the-day review should include a quick discussion about what they have accomplished and learned during the day, you should ask if they have any questions, and you should provide them with an overview of your expectations for the following day. Once the first week has come to an end, you should plan on performing weekly reviews of the employee at the end of each week for the following three weeks. At the end of the first month, you should tell the new hire that you will be performing reviews at the end of each month for the first 90 days. And lastly, at the conclusion of the first 90 days (probationary period), we recommend that you schedule the reviews to occur every 6 months.

The secrets to performing great reviews? There are actually a number of them. First of all, you need to monitor and measure everything so you can go into each review well-prepared, and in a position where you can speak with certainty rather than just communicating your general feelings about the employee’s performance. Secondly, you should advise all employees of their upcoming reviews one week prior to the review date, and you should provide them with a document that outlines what will be addressed during the review. At a minimum, that document should include their specific job goals, the minimum levels of acceptable performance, and all the relative deadlines. Ideally, it will also include their documented productivity and historical performance, points of compliance with your company policies and with their specific job description, their personal goals, and their advancement when it comes to their skill set. Lastly, you should have a list of any specific accomplishments that you can recognize and praise, along with your notes from the employee’s last review, which should include points of agreement and action items.

In all cases, the reviews should be casual, and you need to ensure that you will be uninterrupted. At Elite we employ our 50/25/25 review strategy, which means that the first half of the review is dedicated to reviewing the employee, 25% of the time is dedicated to the employee reviewing our company, and the remaining 25% of the time is dedicated to the employee reviewing whoever is conducting the review. During your reviews, you should always draw information out of the employee by asking them how they feel they are performing in each category, and as appropriate, you should ask them how they feel they can best improve. At the conclusion of the review, you should go over your understanding and action items with the employee, and then follow up by providing them with a written copy of your agreed-upon understanding, your expectations, the relative action items and the deadlines.

Does this method take time? It does, but you can rest assured that it doesn’t take nearly the amount of time it takes to deal with employee issues that stem from lack of communication or to look for new employees when you lose those priceless stars… that you already have.

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