Small business promotion with retail speaker Tom Shay
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Giving the Boss a Job Review

Inviting employees to provide input to the
owner or manager

Many progressive retailers have an established procedure for the evaluation of their employees. In many businesses, it will go something like this: a new hire is given an initial pay rate. He or she is told that salary reviews are given every six or twelve months. A job description details his or her responsibilities, and in many cases there is also a job-specific list that details how to perform certain tasks.

Many of these businesses also utilize a policy and procedure manual that outlines many items such as vacation, dress code, and other areas of concern to all employees. The next bit of information is what few businesses have. That is a written explanation of how the next salary review will be graded. It is a form that gives a logical listing of the areas in which an employee is reviewed. No matter how many areas you detail, if you grade on a one-to-ten scale and tell the employee what the "passing grade" is, there can be no question as to whether or not the employee is entitled to his or her next pay raise.

Truly, these are ideas that the progressive business has in place, and these are usually the businesses whose employees demonstrate the highest skills and are most qualified to take care of customers. So, we have covered one of the areas of concern for most businesses, right? And the lines of communication between employer and employee are well established, right? Not quite. Communication is a two-way street, and so far we have clearly defined what we anticipate from employees.

What if you asked your employees how they felt you were performing as an owner? How many of them would give you an honest answer? This is not to suggest that you are going to turn over control of your business to your employees, but employees are just like everyone else-they feel better if they know their opinions matter. If they feel better, not only will you and your customers feel better, but also you will profit from your actions.

Like the employee-review scenario we described, a similar situation can be created for your job. During one of your staff meetings, hand each of your employees a sheet of paper entitled, "The job description for ... (formerly known as 'boss')." Ask them to fill in the blank, and then numbering the left side of the page from one to ten, write down what they believe are the ten most important things you do. You will probably have to provide them with a list that details your jobs, such as creating the financial sheets, payroll, open to buys, long-range planning, scheduling, and all the other behind-the-scenes tasks you perform.

As they complete their forms, if you feel they will be uncomfortable about giving their lists to you, let them identify themselves by a code. Salespeople put an "S" on the upper-right corner of the sheet, warehouse staff a "W," and continuing with each of the various departments and types of jobs your staff has. As you compile this list, you will most likely see a pattern of what your employees feel is important to them.

Should their list of important items become your list of important items? To some degree, no. But as to the appearance you have before your employees, the answer will be a resounding yes! To demonstrate that you are serious about having a job evaluation from your employees, tabulate these initial inputs and create a score sheet.

Post the results so everyone can see the results of their joint efforts. Then sit down with your key people; and, using all the score sheets, create a job description for yourself.

You may even get a new job title from this meeting-you will have a job description just like everyone else in your business. With the same frequency as your employees, ask every employee to rate your performance using the same scale for yourself as you do for them. You may have a large enough business that there are several employees with whom you rarely have contact, but it remains important that they know you are concerned about their opinions.

Allow your supervisors to tabulate the score from your job evaluations and sit with them to review your performance. If you do not have a level of comfort with this select group of employees, you will surely create one quickly. As they provide you with the results of the review, ask for further information on areas where your efforts are in need of improvement. One way to make sure this event occurs in a positive manner is to require that any criticism given must be followed by a definitive suggestion for improvement of that particular concern.

You may find that you will even allow your supervisors to give suggestions for your pay raise. Just make sure that you and the supervisors understand that your salary is as the owner of the business. Your salary cannot include the expected return on investment that you have in your inventory, fixtures, and building. That return on investment is reserved for the stockholders; and during this job review, you are not the stockholder, but the owner/manager or whatever title on which you and your supervisors decide.

Does this idea work? Absolutely! And be prepared to enjoy a camaraderie and working atmosphere that you never thought possible.

Tom Shay is a fourth generation small business owner providing proven management and business building ideas through his Profits Plus Seminars, Profits Plus Solutions coaching, books authored, and articles written. Tom can be reached at 727-464-2182 or through his web site:

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St. Petersburg, Fl 33731
(727) 464-2182
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