5 Tips for Conducting an Employee Review

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One of the most often ignored tools in retail management is the employee review. Most of the time, the only reason we sit down with an employee is when there is a problem. In other words, when the employee is giving us headaches. But the bottom line is, we tend to underestimate the importance of employee feedback.

Employees today (especially millennials) feed off of feedback. They crave it. They want to know how they are performing. And they want to know more often than once per year. So develop a habit of providing regular employee feedback. It helps make the annual review that much more productive. An annual review should never include anything that is a surprise to the employee. They should already know whats coming because you gave them such great feedback on a regular basis during the year. 

Here are 5 tips to help you do an awesome employee review.

Prepare the Employee

Think of it this way, the employee is not as excited as you are to talk about their performance. Set the stage by telling them what is about to happen. Think of it as a verbal agenda. It helps put them at ease. Uses phrases like "this is part of our culture" or "we value our employees so we take the time to talk about performance." Otherwise, they might think you are about to fire them. Let them know the purpose of the review is to help them improve and even earn more money.

Balance the Good With the Bad

Even your best employee still has areas of improvement. But make sure your worst employee doesn't leave the room feeling defeated or that his or her career is over with you. Imagine a review where the manager pummels the employee with negative comment after negative comment. And at the end says something patronizing like, "I really appreciate you being on our team." Start by sharing some ways you really value the employee in your store. Be honest and give specific examples. Never say something like "I love your attitude." Employees don't know what that means.

Start With the Employee's Feedback

Our tendency is to share what we think first, but try allowing the employee to review themselves. Ask them to recap their "highs and lows" for the season. If you do this right, you can build from what they gave you. It also turns the review into a dialogue versus a download. Critique of ourselves is always much more powerful than critique from others.

Put Everything in Writing

There is an old saying, if it's not in writing, it didn't happen. Do not shoot from the hip or simply "discuss" performance. Use documentation to back up everything you have to say.

Use Real Data and Metrics

Nothing is more frustrating than to hear someone say you are not doing a good job without proving it. For example, telling the employee his or her accessories sales are off is okay, but when you tell him the store's accessory percentage is 10% and his is 3%, then it is much more impactful. Any time you make a statement without data to back it up, it is suspect in the mind of the employee and therefore he or she is able to negate your feedback.