Art of Accounting: Uberize staff evaluations

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Uber passengers are asked to evaluate their ride as soon as they get out of the car, and the drivers are also asked to evaluate the riders immediately. This seems like it would be a good idea for accounting firms.

Most employee evaluations are done annually. Some firms provide evaluations when a project has been completed, but these are usually only done for larger jobs while most staff work on greater numbers of smaller assignments. Annual evaluations serve a good purpose, but many of them are not as effective as they should be because they do not result in suggested behavioral changes. They also become a one-sided criticism of actions that might have occurred almost a year earlier, or the reproach is of a continued pattern that has morphed into a habit accompanied by a tune-out by the employee with polite nods until the allotted meeting time is up. Further, few of these evaluations have a follow-up mechanism, so little change results. Occasionally the annual evaluations become SALY (same as last year) sessions, hastening the decline of the relationship.

Consider an evaluation at the end of every job. It needn’t be a formal process but can be a brief, insightful interchange. The benefits can be immediate upgrades in performance. They can also result in targeted mentoring or coaching. A model for this is the "One-Minute Reprimand" recommended in The One Minute Manager. If someone does something they shouldn’t have or just something bad, tell them right away. Tell them that they are better than what they did, that they made a mistake and need to fix it and make sure they don’t do it again. And then walk away, forget about it and don’t bring it up again. Of course, too many of these exchanges would indicate unchanging unsatisfactory performance, and that will need to be looked at.

Also do "One-Minute Praises." When someone does something good, tell them. Also try to catch staff doing good things. It makes no sense to be stingy with compliments.

Sustainable positive changes should be your goal. Consider ditching the customary annual review and Uberize your evaluation process.

"The One Minute Manager" was written by Kenneth H. Blanchard and Spencer Johnson and is worth reading or rereading.

Do not hesitate to contact me at emendlowitz@withum.com with your practice management questions.

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Evaluation and coaching Practice management Uber Ed Mendlowitz