Building a successful loss prevention career in has always been predicated on the commitment to professional growth and development. But true growth must be built on a solid foundation. Especially when we consider the pace of change, we find that success is largely based on the refinement of the fundamental principles that anchor our skills and our decision making.
Writing effective performance reviews is a critical cog in the entire career development process. We use these appraisals to assess and document an employee’s performance, behaviors and skills while reviewing the milestones that were achieved and/or the opportunities that were missed over the past review period. We observe, review and recall the various metrics, measure those factors against the performance standards established by our organization, and translate our evaluation into sufficient detail to provide the employee with fair and meaningful feedback.
While the review process is a critical aspect of improving employee productivity, development and morale, the task of writing performance reviews is often viewed as a challenging and time consuming chore. However, we must be able to consider the review process on multiple levels, and from a global perspective. A well written, well conceived review is not merely an appraisal of the employee’s past and current performance, but also a means to enhance future performance and provide feedback that can be the foundation of an employee’s overall loss prevention career plan.
In Part 3 of the Review process, we will discuss delivering the appraisal.
Delivering the Performance Appraisal
The ultimate purpose of the review is to communicate ways to help employees improve and to remove real and potential barriers that inhibit job success. The review document is a means to help both the manager and the employee communicate the core messages most effectively. The purpose isn’t simply to complete forms—it’s to deliver messages and information.
Although reviews are often linked to pay increases, appropriate attempts should be made to segregate the performance evaluation and the financial compensation so as not to detract from the true meaning and purpose of the conversation. Certainly, we want to provide the rewards and incentives that our employees deserve; but we also want to send necessary messages and provide the essential feedback that our team deserves as well.
It is extremely important that we approach the review process with the proper frame of mind. It is important to remember that we must focus not only on what is being said, but what is being heard by the employee during the review process. We have to be clear with what we say and descriptive with our comments, but we must also be certain that the employee understands the message. Performance appraisals are most effective when both participants are active with expressing their thoughts and ideas. We have to open doors and invite interaction; asking the employee for their input and suggestions on how we can help improve their performance and the performance of the department. Open and professional dialogue will set the tone for everything that follows.
Preparing for the appraisal helps us to focus on key issues and examine performance in a more objective manner. We should review the appraisal prior to the conversation, refreshing our minds with the content and allowing us to recall our thought processes and decision making as we review the descriptions, responsibilities, observations, documentation, expectations and objectives. This also gives us opportunity to revisit our content to ensure that it reads properly and shares our intended message.
Whenever possible the appraisal should start and end with positive feedback. Employees will tend to be more open to critical feedback if we begin by recognizing their accomplishments and conclude by expressing confidence that they will perform successfully moving forward. Most of us tend to take our jobs seriously and personally, which can make it difficult to hear comments about our work performance, particularly when those comments are critical. Sometimes even constructive criticism is hard to hear. Poor structuring of the conversation can put employees on the defensive, which leads to defensive listening rather than active listening. We need to build the dialogue necessary for attentive communication which leads to performance enhancement.
Courage must be used when describing performance, but information should be presented in a calm, factual manner. We are certainly not helping the employee by failing to discuss all of their strengths and opportunities, and we are not serving their best interests by simply avoiding conflict situations. Be clear, be confident and use examples. When calling for change, be specific, and enlist cooperation and support. When identifying performance shortcomings our goal is to affect change, not reprimand actions (or lack thereof). We are not trying to make the employee feel bad. Our intention is to support and improve.
Be respectful and encouraging at all times. When performance is good, reinforce with approval and gratitude. When performance is lacking, offer suggestions and support. Avoid comments that might be perceived as promises (For example: “I see you being promoted to the next RLPM position over the next few months.”). Such comments can inflate egos, increase expectations, detract from team building, and may negatively impact morale if such plans are not realized.
Finally, encourage every opportunity to allow the employee to fully “own” the appraisal. Whether the employee agrees or disagrees with your assessment, they should be given opportunity to express their opinions as part of the review. Brainstorm with the employee to cultivate an appropriate developmental plan. Ask for their suggestions and comments. Offer your support and assistance. Ownership leads to self-awareness, which breeds responsibility and accountability, which leads to progress.
By capitalizing on opportunities to enhance our knowledge and education, we are making an investment in our own future. To learn more about loss prevention career development and the certification process, visit losspreventionfoundation.org.
To read the LP101 article on Approaching the Performance Assessment, click here.
To read the LP101 article on Writing the Performance Appraisal, click here.