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Quick Tips for Better Employee Reviews

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Business Advice

In small business, employee reviews are often put off, and even ignored. Many owners see these review settings as ‘setting the table for a pay raise discussion’, and when the performance/profits aren’t living up to expectations, employee reviews can be seen as doing more harm than good..

.. but is ignoring the review really the better option? Consequences of not doing reviews are simple enough for any owner to predict:

  • Employees who do deserve increased rewards or praise are not recognized for their performance
  • Employees who need correction or motivation are not given the appropriate feedback or direction – they’ll continue performing inadequately
  • Employees believe they are not being measured
  • Employees see their job as ‘just a paycheque’ with little opportunity for improvement or advancement
  • Problem employees stick around, under-performing
  • Great employees leave for better opportunities with other companies

Good year or bad year, employee reviews are an important part of growing your company – and building a staff that sees opportunity for personal advancement through better productivity and results for the company.

For better employee reviews, try the following…

Ask the Employee to Prepare for the Review

Both employee and the employer should prepare before their review to make best use of their time.  Issue each of your employees a self-evaluation that must be completed before the review meeting to get their honest perspective on their own performance.  LMN members can use the Performance Evaluation (Self) document found in LMN’s Systems Library under Administration | Human Resources | Performance Evaluations.

Come Prepared With Review Criteria

Don’t leave it up to your employees to steer the meeting with vague objectives and performance measurements like “I worked very hard.” or “I was there everyday.”  For yourself, figure out what you want to base employee evaluations on and follow a review sheet.  Review criteria might include things like:

  • Safety – no lost time due to accidents
  • Productivity – how much revenue did the crew produce this year?  How much revenue per person?  What were their wages as a % of sales?
  • Attendance/punctuality
  • Quality of work/warranty call-backs
  • Training – on the job and off-the-job training courses/certifications, etc.

Compare Actual Performance to Set Goals

Did you set performance goals last year?  If not, don’t make that same mistake again.  If you want to improve productivity and profit, your job as an owner/manager is to set in place the goals that will enable your company to achieve it.  If you haven’t set goals for your employees, how can you expect them to achieve them?  Goals can be numbers-based (sales/production targets) or not (complete CPR training, manage a crew of 2), but give employees a vision of what you expect/want them to achieve so they know what to work towards.  Next evaluation, review those goals to create a plan -> do -> assess -> improve cycle.

Click here to watch a quick video on setting employee production and wage goals.

Take the Easy Road & Focus on Getting Better

It’s been said that employee performance is 10% employee, 90% systems and communication.  It’s tough to motivate employees but it’s very easy to de-motivate them.  So take the easy road – and use the evaluation as an opportunity to uncover and correct some of the waste that gets in the way of good employees doing good work.  Here, you can discuss the infinite number of reasons we lose productivity due to reasons like:

  • Job planning and information
  • Communication
  • Material and equipment organization
  • AM setup and cleanup time
  • Equipment breakdowns, tool availability
  • Employee turnover

Don’t spend too much time trying to come up with systems and metrics that convince people to perform better.  Any great leader will tell you, that’s hard work.  Instead, use the review as a communication tool to help you remove the obstacles in your company that force people to under-peform!  This is easy work.  There is no shortage of ways we can make our systems faster, simpler, and easier to manage.  Focus on improving your company’s systems and processes so that employees are less likely to be frustrated, under-resourced, and left in-the-dark.

Focus your time on eliminating reasons that demotivate your people and you’ll improve employee retention, field productivity, customer service and ultimately, your company’s profits.

The Landscape Management Network helps great landscape contractors build great landscape businesses with online tools for budgeting, estimating, systems, processes, checklists, procedures, policies, training.  Find out more at

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