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Give Yourself a Performance Review

The bane of many small businesses is the annual employee performance reviews.

My business is no different in that each fall when I mention we will be passing out performance review folders to my managers, the groan can be heard for miles around.

Performance Reviews

I am a strong advocate of performance review for all employees. Done correctly, the performance review is the tool where a manager can make strong and lasting performance improvements in each of the employees he or she supervises.

As all successful businesses know, we must invest in our employees. They are the source of our product, determine the quality of our output, and are the future of our business.

I would guess, however, that only a fraction of small businesses subject their employees to performance reviews. Eighty-eight percent of all business have less than twenty employees, and 57% of all businesses have less than four employees.[1] None of my friends who fit those categories do performance reviews. Small business owners do not feel that the benefits from the time spent doing a “formal” performance review outweigh the lost productivity on work they need to be completing.

I understand that logic.

Business Leader's Performance Review

Now while only a fraction of small businesses have employee performance reviews, I would speculate that even a significantly smaller fraction has a mechanism where the business’s leader, manager, or owner is also subject to a performance review.

The “I created this business and run this business; therefore no one can tell me how I can do it better” mentality is pervasive. Few entrepreneur leaders are interested in having someone subject them to a performance review.

That is unfortunate.

It is also an opportunity. If performance reviews are effective at improving performance, imagine the impact a small business could make in their market by doing performance reviews even on the business’s leader, manager or owner. It would clearly set them apart from their competitors.

Review Yourself

Regardless if you do performance reviews on your employees or not, I suggest you try giving yourself a performance review and see what interesting characteristics you discover.

Here are some suggestions that will help when evaluating your own business performance.

  1. Highlight the major success from the past year. Don’t be shy; it’s okay to brag about yourself occasionally.
  2. Looking at your list of achievements, give yourself an honest percentage of how much that success was yours and how much was from your staff. It’s time to be honest, this information is for your benefit only.
  3. List the major challenges you faced from the previous year. What are the things that happened that you wish you would have done differently? Write out what steps you could have done differently.
  4. Look at these steps and look for any consistent actions that may indicate a problem with an employee, a personal characteristic or a client type that is causing these challenges.
  5. List goals for the upcoming year that will help you mitigate these past challenges.
  6. Compare the list of highlights and your new goals to see if opportunities exist to help either you or your employees make the list of highlights even larger and more significant in the upcoming year.
The Bible

The list of self-performance review steps is just a small fraction of the questions you need to answer in performing a performance review on yourself (both professional and on-line help is available). The goal is always the same, to look objectively at your work and what you can do to make your business and your employees better all the while reducing the number of challenges you face.

The Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:3-5.

For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.5 For each will have to bear his own load.

Business metrics overwhelmingly shows the benefits of employee performance evaluations. Why not take those benefits to a higher level and evaluate the performance of the businesses’ leaders, managers or owners through self-evaluations?

Self-evaluations are inherently difficult unless you are entirely objective about the work you are taking credit for. Only then will you be able to see your contribution to your business and, more importantly, recognize how you can make your business better.

[1] U.S Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy, 2016