By Grice, Karin L.
Journal of Property Management , Vol. 57, No. 5
A property management firm with fewer than 50 employees has its advantages and disadvantages when it comes to managing employee performance. On one hand, individuals in small organizations usually have closer relationships with each other and with their supervisor, work rules are often more flexible and forgiving, and employees often are more in tune with the company's goals.
At the same time, personnel at today's small company are frequently stretched to their limit; "in" baskets are never empty. Managers find it difficult to spend any significant amount of time on employee communication and development. Yet, when supervisors neglect to acknowledge their employees or given them feedback on a regular basis, performance suffers. Individuals either continue in non-productive ways or become de-motivated when no one recognizes their good work.
Supervisors of property management staffs who want to improve employee performance and satisfaction can look to their larger counterparts in other industries. There, one consistent element links employees to a common goal and enhances their effectiveness and productivity: an ongoing and meaningful performance appraisal process.
Without such a system, property management firms not only dilute employee enthusiasm and productivity, but run the risk of violating both legal and ethical mandates. Sooner or later supervisors who want top performance from all their employees come to realize that performance appraisals must be included as a part of their managerial repertoire.
More than just the act
While not taking time for performance appraisals is bad, using ineffective methods during reviews is not much better. Performance appraisals should be more than an annual conversation between the supervisor and the employee, with the supervisor doing most of the talking. That mistake is common in many companies. However, this concept limits the many possibilities available in a carefully designed appraisal system.
In its broadest application, an employee appraisal includes any personnel decision affecting an employee's status, including retention, termination, promotion, demotion, transfer, salary increase or decrease, and merit pay. As such, appraisals are a powerful administrative tool for planning and controlling work and allow supervisors to identify areas where employees are performing adequately and areas in which employees need to improve.
Implementing a performance appraisal system is a challenge for small companies, however. Let's face it: many employers see little need for either formal or informal performance evaluations. If the organization is already successful and employees loyal, stable, and productive, why bother?
Even when supervisors believe in theory that employee evaluations are necessary, appraisal time is often regarded with as much eagerness as a dental checkup.
The necessity of evaluations may be recognized, but if time must be spent on a continuing program of observing job performance and giving feedback, when does the real work of hands-on managing, budgeting, marketing, and leasing properties get done?
Shouldn't the property management staff already know how it's doing? Why not wait until the employee needs to hear that performance is below standard and termination is a possibility?
The answer is simple: even though evaluating employees takes time and effort from other activities, performance appraisals are always good business for companies large and small.
Legal and ethical considerations
Once the necessity for company-wide performance appraisals is accepted, supervisors need to understand the legal guidelines for an appraisal process.
Because two of the most important functions of appraisals relate directly to the company's decisions regarding the employee's status, appraisals are subject to scrutiny in both employment discrimination and wrongful termination suits. …