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Remember to evaluate employees

Kelly Sharp is the owner of Heart of Iowa Market Place

With everything else that retail entrepreneurs have to do every day, it's all-too-easy to overlook make-or-break details of one of the most important aspects of business: employees.

With few or no backstops available at larger companies, there's a big potential for small retailers to rush or even neglect virtually every step of the process from hiring to performance evaluations and appreciation to firing.

One obstacle for small retailers is that they spend so much time with employees that they feel they're too close to do formal performance evaluations.

Some small business owners don't do performance evaluations because they think they're too small, but those who do are focused on the wrong word. Instead of thinking "small," they need to think "business."

You're running a business, and everything about an employee's conduct -- from their interaction with customers to what they do when things are quiet -- directly influences your bottom line. If you're not conducting regular performance evaluations, you're doing yourself, your business and your employees a disservice.

Some employees naturally dread evaluations but they dislike the alternative -- being kept in the dark -- even more. A lack of feedback can lead to dissatisfied employees because they don't know where they stand. The fact is, employees want to know what's going on and how they're doing.

No matter how much you talk with them every day, they want to understand in a one-on-one setting with you what you think they do best, what things can they improve upon and also what new tasks might they take on.

Evaluations provide opportunities to do all that. They are a time to correct problems, set goals and clear-cut expectations and to reward employees for meeting previously set goals.

And, that's why it doesn't matter how big or small your business is, regular evaluations are essential.

Next blog: The nuts-and-bolts of a performance evaluations for specialty retail employees.

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