A Fair Performance Review

Gathering objective information will help you put a proven employee appraisal system in place

There’s a reason baseball managers and fans keep stats. It helps to be objective in a subjective situation. In other words, we tend to remember the big home run in the bottom of the ninth inning when the whole stadium was going nuts and the game was on the line. But we forget about the five previous strikeouts by the same player in similar situations.

Stats keep the game in perspective. After all, a one-run victory is the same whether the winning run was made in the top of the first inning or the bottom of the ninth. The batter who quietly hits .310 but isn’t known for flashy heroics is a lot more important to a team than a batter who hits .180 but is always looking for glory by swinging for the fences.

As you know, every employee’s personality and style are unique. Social people like to talk to the boss and tell him everything they’ve accomplished. Shy employees go about their business without saying much to anyone. It’s easy to mistake the talker for the one who is accomplishing the most. An objective performance appraisal system can help you keep the stats in your portable sanitation business. Without it, you could end up rewarding and promoting the wrong people.


To fairly evaluate and reward employees, every business needs to create a way of tracking objective data to determine actual performance. And family members are no exception. The best way to track performance is to measure it in real terms. Look at each job in your business and determine what standards you should measure.

For service drivers, you might collect data on such things as number of miles driven (compared to actual route), number of gallons pumped, time taken to prepare each morning, number of units serviced per day, time taken to complete a route, positive and negative feedback from customers.

By looking at real performance measures, you’ll quickly see some drivers are more economical for your business than others.

Salespeople can also have real performance measures to evaluate, such as the number of sales calls made per day, number of new customers brought in per quarter, the size of client businesses and dollar amount sold per customer, and the number of current customers called on and serviced per week.

To track performance issues that can’t be easily measured, such as cleanliness or quality of work, friendliness to customers and teamwork, it is best to create a rating scale of at least 1 to 5. Rating scales help your evaluations become more consistent and help employees develop a better idea of what standards you consider adequate or excellent.

Take for example a well-cleaned unit — on a scale from 1 to 5, with five being a perfectly cleaned unit and one being a used unit that wasn’t pumped or cleaned at all, it’s pretty easy for most people to score the work.

Typically, a review will also contain several items pertaining to basic work habits, such as care for equipment, attendance and tardiness.


Once you’ve collected stats for several months, determine a positive approach for using them. In a fair performance appraisal, stats should be used to help employees set goals to improve and to earn more.

Like a baseball team, every portable sanitation business has its stars. They are valuable to your business and should be paid accordingly. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking all your employees should be working at the pace set by your stars. Not everyone can be like Alex Rodriguez. Don’t put undue pressure on employees to all do as well as your best performers. Goals that may be realistic for some aren’t realistic for others. Instead, try to encourage all your employees, including your stars, to set goals to improve by 5 to 10 percent.

It’s also important to remember that giving negative feedback doesn’t mean the employee is “bad.” It may mean he or she hasn’t learned a particular task yet or hasn’t been on the job long enough. There are a lot of reasons someone might not be up to the standards you set, and sometimes it takes a few months to determine the cause. With fair and objective performance standards, you’ll be able to get to the heart of problems much quicker and treat them in a productive manner.


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