I was scarfing down the remaining Christmas cookies at my desk when Russ T. Blade peeked from behind my growing pile of paperwork. “Rusty,” as regular readers know, is my miniature imaginary produce manager who appears to me on occasion to talk shop.

Rusty: Easy on the goodies there, cowboy. You’re going to pack on the holiday pounds that we’re warned about every December.

Me: I was underweight anyway. Would you believe I’m trying to get up to my, um, fighting weight?

Rusty: I wasn’t gonna talk about weight resolutions. Put that topic in your pocket. For now, I was thinking about other New Year’s resolutions. Except I like to call them goals.

Me: You have a list of such aspirations for the 2018 produce aisle?

Rusty: Sure. But mostly, I like to center on what’s attainable not so much for me, but for my crew. By the end of each calendar year many produce managers have to be caught up on their employee evaluations. 

Me: Let me guess. Most put it off until the last week of the year.

Rusty: I know a few who “roll ‘em over” into the new year. That’s no way to keep on track. Employees need to know where they stand. It’s important to a company, to human resources, and especially to the employee. It has to be consistent and timely.

Me: Aren’t those two things the same?

Rusty: Geez, have you been out of the stores that long? No. Consistency means that whatever expectation or direction that I dish out during all the daily shifts is equivalent to the summary and expectations that I formally put down on paper in the employees’ evaluations. 

Me: Nobody likes surprises, right? I remember making that mistake and I know a produce manager shouldn’t “save” a list of undiscussed grievances for a two-fisted approach.

Rusty: You do remember a thing or two. Evaluations should have three objectives from a produce manager: To recap what the employee should have been working on since their last evaluation, to heap a bit of praise on what they’ve accomplished and sincerely tell them how much they’re valued, and to present a list of reachable resolutions — I mean goals — for the upcoming year.

Me: I see the consistency. All the things should mirror what you work with them on, on a regular basis.

Rusty: And timely means the paperwork is done regularly, and not wait to cram ’em all in in the last month or week of the year. It’s best to stagger these things out, and schedule one at a time to keep caught up.

Me: And the goals?

Rusty: Their goals carry on into the next year. Happy 2018!

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