Lupberger: Employee Evaluations and Company Culture

by Patrick OToole

Most remodeling contractors don’t like doing employee evaluations. When I ask them “why”, I get a variety of responses:

  • They don’t know what to review
  • Employees are unsure of what is being reviewed
  • Some employees view the annual evaluation as an opportunity to ask for a raise

So, what is the script and intent of an effective employee review? Simply, to evaluate performance! Are they doing their job? To do this, a written job description is mandatory because without written position expectations, how do you hold an employee accountable for their job performance? By creating and reviewing a written position description, both employee and employer can review and agree on employee expectations.

David Lupberger, CR

If this sounds onerous, I want to suggest that you look at this another way. For example, you work with building plans for every project that you do. Those plans put homeowner expectations onto paper so that you and your homeowner clients can agree on a plan and scope of work. Honestly, can you imagine doing an addition or major renovation without a written plan? It would be a disaster!

So why do we ask employees to fulfill specific roles in our companies without written guidance? We need to put our expectations into writing and that is the basis for their annual employee evaluation. That is the scorecard. Let’s review how to use this scorecard!

Here is an example employee evaluation form (using a sample lead carpenter job description). I want to demonstrate how you can create a position description to reflect both what you want to employee to accomplish as well as how it can be then used as an evaluation form.

With new employees, you can use this same position description as a skills evaluation review when new employees begin working for you. This will allow you to better understand what training will be needed when they assume their new role in your company.

Let’s review this tool. Use the numbers #1 as low performance to #5 being high performance:

1.    Contact all crew members first thing in the morning, or the day before, to review job status, subcontractor status, and material needs:                          1          2          3          4          5

2.    Check for new jobs at the office on a daily basis:                                                                                           1          2          3          4          5

3.    Coordinate with the salesperson to set up the pre-construction meeting:                                                                                     1          2          3          4          5

4.    Provide quality control on every job under supervision:                                                                                1          2          3          4          5

5.    Be able to schedule and manage multiple projects at the same time:                                                                                             1          2          3          4          5

6.    Maintain constant communication with all property owners on all jobs under supervision:                                                                                 1          2          3          4          5

7.    Review all supplemental changes with the Estimator. Work with and respond to any questions from the Estimator. All change orders must be in writing: 1          2          3          4          5

8.    Get Certificate of Satisfaction signed by property owner on every completed project. Inquire about final payment                                                                    1          2          3          4          5

9.    Obtain building permits when necessary. Call county authorities to determine if permits are required. Call for required inspections:                                   1          2          3          4          5

10.  Be able to read architectural drawings and do simple job layouts to scale:

                                                                                                 1         2          3          4           5

After completing position descriptions for each role in your company, let’s go to step 2. In step 2, you will start setting one-on-one appointments to introduce and review the position description with each of your employees. This is where good things can happen!

Print a copy of the appropriate position description to share with the employee you are meeting with. Let him or her know that you have created a written job description and that you want to review this with them. Review each of your position description expectations above and ask for feedback:

  • Does your position description match what they are doing?
  • Do they understand what they will be responsible for?
  • What comments to they have?  Ask for their feedback
  • What would they change?  What would they add?
  • Are you maximizing their skillset and talents?

Ideally, the preparation of a position description is a collaboration between you and your staff. Your staff is in an excellent position to define and document their functions within the company. There are multiple benefits:

  • When employees help write their job description, they own it
  • Expectations are clear!

With that said, your input as the owner is necessary to ensure that the defined responsibilities are what you want and are acceptable for your company. Upon agreement, have a signature line at the bottom of the position description for both you as the owner and for each employee. Their signature denotes that they understand and agree to the job description that you have reviewed.

In any future employee evaluation, you now have your scorecard. You have your agenda to review their performance. Now, in follow-up evaluations, take the appropriate job description and add the 1 to 5 rating formats as shown above.

When meeting with each employee, ask them to “self-evaluate” their performance. Simultaneously, the owner or manager should do the same 1 to 5 evaluation with each employee. This doesn’t take more than a few minutes to complete. Upon completion, lay the 2 scorecards next to each other. If there is any variance or difference in the posted scores, it means that the employee either needs more training or that they are not completing their tasks as required. That is the point of this. Are they meeting or exceeding expectations!

That is the purpose of a good evaluation. If there are areas for improvement, let’s identify those areas and add assistance where needed. If an employee is exceeding expectations, they may well deserve a raise! I bring this up because the raise should be determined by an objective measure. Simultaneously, if they have several 3 or 4 ratings on their evaluation, how can they argue that they deserve a raise? I want this evaluation to be based that position description that was reviewed and agreed upon earlier. There should be no confusion.

There is one more thing that I want to add. Good employees want to see an owner take the time to sit with them to review their role in the company. I can’t encourage owners strongly enough to put the time aside to meet with each of their employees. This shows that you care and besides the evaluation review, it gives you the opportunity to ask them what you can do better. Are there areas in your business where improvements might be made? Key employees will have these insights they can share with you based on their daily activities. This builds a strong company culture. Your company grows based on the contributions of good employees. You can’t do this alone. This is the true definition of “team”. Are you building a good team? QR

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