Evaluating Employees

Evaluating Employees

 

Evaluating employees performance is a great resource if used properly.

You happen to be the new manager in your restaurant and you want to determine who are the top performers in the restaurant and who are the non-performers.

You may rely on feedback about your employees from the owner or previous managers or other key members in the restaurant. Realize this is just an opinion and sometimes their judgment may be unfairly biased toward the employees they like or know outside of work. It is important to remember when listening to the feedback about employees it is their opinion. Far too many times the fate of that employee rests solely upon the feedback from other employees, and it is easy to react too quickly and pass judgment without having all the facts.

You need to form your own opinion, through comprehensive unbiased employee performance evaluation. There are many tools on the market to make that happen, but there are some basics to tips to get you started. Don’t judge that employee without giving them a fair shake. If someone appears to be out of line or not performing, you need to look at the reason behind their performance issues.  It is best to assume that it is a training issue rather than an attitude issue.

The first step would be to evaluate the managers. It is possible that a manager is not supervising the employees correctly or managers are inconsistent and not following a standard policy. Perhaps managers are allowing the employees to run the restaurant and take control instead of managing the restaurant properly. You may not know of the inconsistency because you can’t be there every hour of every day. You can get some people to come in as “mystery diners” to get the customer view of what is happening when you can’t be there.

Restaurant owners/general managers should conduct periodic unannounced visits. These unannounced visits are a great tool in determining if management is doing the right thing; this will also help in determining if employees are performing as you would expect them to when you aren’t there. Maybe the inconsistency is because no one has taken the time to train the managers or to set up standards for the restaurant. If you determine that is the cause, then start with setting up standards and an evaluation of managers.

One great evaluation tool is the Manager’s 360 form. This tool is handed out to different employees and other managers to evaluate each manager’s performance. No matter what you need to come up with a game plan for improvements of their standards and to turn around under performing employees. If you determine management training is needed you can start with the manager’s guide called “The Manager’s Walkthrough and Figure Eights.” Form your own opinion and create a game plan of improvement based on evaluation and your observation of your managers and your employees.

For employee evaluations, it may be helpful for different managers to conduct on-the-job evaluations. Peer review can also be helpful in determining whether the employee is a team player, top performer, or needs improvement. Don’t rely on only one person’s opinion of an employee.

Before beginning an evaluation process, you should pass out the evaluations to employees to let them know what you are expecting of them. This will help them get started on their own ideas of what they need to change. Once employees are aware of the expectations, then begin the evaluation process. Have several different managers conduct a standard evaluation of each employee. This will help in getting an overall idea of employee performance.

Don’t just evaluate potential problem employees. By conducting periodic evaluations for all employees, you are creating an overall attitude of success. Employees will feel like they are part of the team because they all know that they will be evaluated fairly. Some topics of a employee  performance review in a thorough evaluation are:

  • Job performance
  • Position knowledge
  • Menu Knowledge
  • Being respectful to management, team members and customers
  • Attitude
  • Demeanor towards management, peers and customers

Once you determine whether an employee is a top performer or under performing and needs additional training you need to come up with an action plan. Start by reviewing the evaluation results with the employee. Get the employee’s feedback and ask if he/she has ideas on his/her strengths and how he/she can improve. Having goals for all employees can be helpful in motivation and performance improvement. Using the evaluation and employee feedback  you can create an action plan and goals. An action plan must include goals written that are realistic and achievable. The best goals are referred to as SMART goals:

  • Specific: Instead of saying “Do better at customer service,” break it down into specific goals such as “Greet every customer with a smile.” “Refill drinks when the glasses are half full.”
  • Measurable: “Greet every customer with a smile.” Is measurable because you can use the anonymous evaluations and mystery shopper surveys or guest surveys to determine if the employee is or is not doing this.
  • Attainable: make sure that the employee can reach this goal. If the employee can’t reach the goal they will be discouraged.
  • Realistic/Relevant: The goals should be relevant to that employee’s job. Take small steps and realize that you very seldom will have instant results. It takes time.
  • Timely: Set a time frame for when the goal should be met. For example, if you want the employee to be meeting this goal within one month then write down the date for one month from the date when the goal was set.

This is very useful for setting goals. If someone excels in all ways, then they may be helpful in training other staff members. One great training technique involves new  or non-performing employees shadowing experienced top performing employees to learn the right way. It is also important in scheduling to pair up employees of varied levels. Maybe the top performer’s could have goals on how to positively influence other team members or training new staff.

Once you have created that game plan and goals then you need to go over it with the employee. The employee will have an opportunity to write their comments towards the end of the evaluation. They should also agree that they will work to meet the goals. Make sure the employee signs the form indicating that they read the evaluation and will make an attempt to meet goals and improve performance as per the written action plan. If the employee needs disciplinary action it is similar to goal setting. It is very important to establish a realistic time frame for the employee to correct the issue.

You can use an Employee Corrective Action plan to help them improve their performance. When it comes to disciplinary action, if the employee did not improve in the time set in the action plan, then you may need to take it a step further by telling the employee that there will be consequences such as further disciplinary action up to the possible termination of employment. I would recommend this as a last resort, as it is better to stay positive and focus on what can be done to improve. It may come to this if an employee refuses to comply or is not motivated to improve.

Look at the whole situation and don’t jump to conclusions, but don’t waste your time if the employee does not seem to care. If they are sincerely trying, but can’t meet the goals, then discuss this with the employee to determine if there is a better fit in another job at the restaurant. If the employee cannot perform the assigned position then you might want to relocate him/her to a different position within the restaurant. Make sure to approach this in a positive way so that the employee will feel comfortable with the transition.

Every discussion where you need to document the employee’s performance should have an employee and manager’s signature. You will be glad you did this in case a paper trail is needed. As for the top-performing employees, setting goals can help them grow and stay motivated.

Both Winston Churchill and Benjamin Franklin have been associated with the phrase, “If you fail to prepare, then you are preparing to fail.” Take the time to prepare your employees for their jobs, and their success is tied to your success. Evaluations, corrective actions, and goal setting are the keys to employee improvement and overall success.

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