Formulating an employee performance standard is one tough project for a restaurant business owner. On the other hand, establishing it is another gargantuan task that you will need to continuously undertake as you educate every employee – old and new, on the importance of living and breathing your restaurant’s rules, policies, employee code of conduct, and performance standard. It doesn’t end there as you still need to assess and measure if your employee performance standard is indeed being sincerely carried out by all of your recruits. And how to check this? Through an evaluation which will check if they are delivering the kind of work that they were hired for at the level that you have set them to perform.
As a restaurant business owner, you may have gone through many past performance evaluations already either with a previous boss, a professor, a mentor, or with a subject matter expert. Or maybe, you have not yet experienced receiving a formal performance feedback yourself? So how do you envision giving it to not just one but to all of your employees? How will you project yourself in front of an employee who is underperforming or who needs to improve? What will you say? How will you start? Ok. Breathe in, breathe out. Let us start with this golden rule: “Honesty is the best policy.”
Having a candid one-on-one discussion with your employee about his or her performance is an exercise that you need to do regularly. Many managers or business owners fall to the notion that there are some portions of the evaluation (especially negative ones) that they can tone down for the sake of not hurting their employee's feelings or maintaining the positive work relationship that had been established between them. These and other excuses to conduct an honest performance feedback are not only wrong but also counter-productive as points related to change and improvement will always need to be discussed in detail and with an open-mind. Your restaurant will suffer a lot say you need to let your receptionist know that she needs to develop good personal hygiene and you fail to discuss this with her for you don't want her to be embarrassed. She will think that everything is ok and will continue on coming in with messy hair, sweaty, and in dirty clothes. Imagine the clients’ impression when they get greeted by her at the entrance of your restaurant - Will they be pleased? Will they trust that everyone else inside the restaurant is properly groomed unlike her? Is the food in there safe and clean? Is the manager ok with this? This, if left unresolved will turn away potential customers or might elicit bad reviews which can easily be posted and shared via social media. As a restaurant business owner, you want none of these to happen. But how do you deliver an honest performance feedback and be successful at making your employees understand the significance of the change that you want them to do after? Here are a few easy steps on how to hopefully get you through the usual anxiety brought about by this exercise:
Step #1 - Establish the existence of a scheduled performance evaluation or appraisal in your restaurant. Indicate in your employee manual that you conduct performance evaluations quarterly, bi-annually, annually, or when someone is up for promotion. Mention how you conduct reviews in your restaurant like one-on-one or in the presence of their superior or team leader if they report to one. If a scheduled performance review is coming up, remind them during weekly meetings or release company memos. The more employees know about an upcoming evaluation and how it is being done, the less it is that they will be anxious and scared of it.
Step #2 - Prepare your employee by giving him or her first-hand access to what the criteria for evaluation are. Now that your employee is aware that he or she is up for evaluation, it is now time to introduce him or her to the various aspects that he or she will be graded on. Give a blank copy of the evaluation sheet to your employee and provide a section there where he or she can grade his or her own performance. Or you can just simply ask your employee to list down his or her accomplishments within the period along with the things that he or she wants to improve. This whole exercise will give them the opportunity to refresh their minds about their past performance and to provide a window for self-realisation. If they will be honest about their shortcomings and are able to admit that they may have performed poorly based on the standards that you have set, then the easier it is for them to accept your – the boss' judgment.
Step #3 - Prioritise accomplishments then move on to the areas that need improvement. Performance evaluations also highlight the key accomplishments that an employee was able to achieve and it sets the tone for a healthy conversation. This is a window for you to motivate your employee because you are showing that you are not only focused on their mistakes but on his or her contributions as well. Don’t overdo the niceties; make it just right to deliver your appreciation. Then the hard part –discussing your take on the areas of one’s performance where an employee did poorly or inadequately. Don’t sugar-coat your observations but keep calm as well. This is not an opportunity for you to scold your employee but to objectively discuss how you can mend bad performance. If you see that he or she have rated himself or herself differently, ask about that as well. Is the bad performance due to a difference in perspective or misunderstanding of a policy or rule? Get to the root cause of the problem and offer solutions. Ask what your employee’s difficulties are and please allot enough time to listen. You can also put the employee under training or coaching. Remember to be honest because cloaking the performance review will not help your employee but will instead set them or your restaurant towards failure.
Step #4 - Do not end the conversation without a solid action plan. That means even before the meeting, you should have already prepared potential solutions on how issues about an employee’s performance can be improved. After Step #3, bring out your recommendations on how you think performance standards can be met. Again, ask for their own thoughts on how they plan to achieve change. Jot down the things that have been agreed and get their commitment to following the action plan.
Step #5 – Release a formal document on what has transpired during the one-on-one performance discussion. In 1 to 2 days, give the employee a copy of the actual performance evaluation form or a personal memo on what has been discussed. Cover points discussed by both you and the employee but highlight the ones that have been agreed upon. Have two copies of the document and ask the employee to sign both. You get one copy and you keep another one too. It would be ideal to mention in the document when the next evaluation is going to be.
Feel free to look into our very own Staff Management Manual but if you think you need to talk to a pro, email us right away at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you also think that a friend or colleague would get some help from this blog then share away via social media.