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Make Your Performance Review Work For You

Are you your community’s best asset? How do you know you are or you aren’t? And how are you making your determination? We are now entering the midpoint of the third quarter and I suspect most working adults aren’t even thinking about this. If you are a parent, you are probably thinking about getting your children ready for the start of a new school year: buying new clothes or uniforms, picking out new lunch boxes, getting those school supplies. Not to mention making sure they have had their check-ups and the required immunizations. Heck, just getting them to the dentist for teeth cleanings is often scheduled for this time of year. But this time of year is also a perfect time to make sure you are putting your own ducks in a row.


Performance Reviews are often conducted in the last quarter of the year, supposedly a kind of end-of-the-year Report Card for grown ups. If I were in charge of the world, this would not be the case. As someone who sometimes has to conduct these Reviews, I can tell you it is not usually any fun for the employee or for me. They cause stress for most people and even if you feel like you’ve done your best and have done a good job, there is still someone sitting in Judgment over you.


I think this is an archaic way of communicating with our teammates. If, at this Evaluation Ceremony, this is the first time an employee is hearing about his mistakes, his ineptness, his inability to arrive to work on time, is improperly attired, unkempt, and not completing tasks as assigned, then there is a bigger problem going on with your company. On the other hand, if this is the only time an employee is hearing about how proud you are and even your bosses are impressed with how you’ve met your objectives and goals, then that also signals a break down in the process.


Many companies provide raises and Bonuses based off the submitted review and recommendation of the Supervisor. However, wouldn’t it be better to continually be sharing feedback with employees? Wouldn’t it be just as productive to write a Memo-to-the-File stating how well an idea was implemented by an individual, as well as the team? Why is it that the only thing that makes it into most people’s Official Work Record is their attendance record, vacation requests, Status Changes, and, GASP! Write Ups? We all understand that during the Recession there were properties that suffered significant loss of income due to an exodus of residents who lost jobs and could not afford to pay their rents. Why not recognize that a Leasing Consultant contributed by maintaining occupancy or mitigated some of that loss by performing even more Outreach Marketing, took on some extra responsibility by handling one of the manager’s reports? Why is that Leasing Professional’s Review often tied to the quarterly Shop Reports, which may be somewhat inaccurate?


As we enter these last months of the Q3 and Q4, take a moment to reflect on your achievements and accomplishments. This may have been a great year with higher than average Occupancy, thus increasing revenues. Perhaps you were able to raise your property’s Market Rents this year (I know I have – twice – already.) Maybe your Maintenance Teams took in some extra HVAC training or someone completed his/her certification and they were able to reduce this expense category by making on site repairs. Maybe your team simply “held their own” in your troubled market and by pulling together developed into a cohesive, well-oiled machine. Isn’t this worth a word of recognition? How many of you took some weekly lunch breaks together and decided to share ideas, problems, or talked about your summer plans? If you are a Supervisor, what impact are you making on your teams’ ability to “get her done?”


Isn’t it amazing when there is trust in your organization? Understanding there may be a need for an official documented meeting annually, wouldn’t it be great if it were more of a celebration, an exchange, a way to set new goals and meet new challenges? When employees feel empowered to walk into such a meeting to share their ideas, provide essential feedback that is listened to and noted, the whole system is beneficial. If it is used as a way to punish or threaten or keep an employee from being worthy of a promotion, then it is useless to the organization and to the team. This should be an opportunity for the employee and the supervisor to exchange ideas and support one another, not trample over the team. Again, it isn’t the time to provide the first feedback; rather, it is a time to provide continued support of goal setting and achievement.


Before the year gets away, everyone should be creating his own file and adding to it so that it is a true reflection of who you are, what you contribute daily to the team and where you want to be “five years from now.”  Don’t wait to walk into this conversation not prepared to stand up for yourself if you are in The Hot Seat. Nothing your supervisor says should be a surprise, a recrimination, or a shock. If you made mistakes and actually deserved a Write Up, then this is the time to reassure and be reassured by your Supervisor, that this has been corrected. Anyone should be able to accept some constructive criticism, as well as, some well-deserved praise. And, Managers should honor this exchange as a two-way street. In my perfect world, there would be opportunities to talk openly and with respect from one to another all year long so that the actual review session is just a formality. Knowing you are all on the same side should be a goal for any property team. 


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