Setting: A supervisor sitting in his or her office.
It's time to prepare for year-end evaluations. Wasn't it just a few weeks ago that we did mid-year reviews? I'm really not looking forward to doing this again. Everyone is busy and the staff knows what I expect. Besides, it seems that things are going just fine in this office.
Supervisors and staff members sometimes feel this way about the annual review process. On the surface, it may seem reasonable, however, in the long run it is never successful. Here's another approach to the situation:
Let's see. I have my mid-year review notes, and I have outlined my goals for the upcoming year. These annual evaluations offer me a real opportunity to have a meaningful one-on-one conversation with each person who reports to me. With all the daily craziness in the office, I'm looking forward to having some individual time with each person. Together, we can talk about achievements during the past year and assess what can be done to improve goals that did not get done. I'm ready to go.
Much Better! Having a good attitude and respecting the observations of both parties are two key elements for a successful meeting. A good assessment is a two-way conversation where there is a sharing of observations regarding professional growth, personal goals and the effectiveness of the department. It is not a time for surprises nor is it a time to vent about all the problems that occurred throughout the year. Adhering to the following standards will help ensure a productive assessment meeting:
- Remember to listen to each other. The conversation should never be one sided. Both parties should exchange thoughts and ideas freely as would occur in a normal conversation. State your feelings, concerns, and observations as things to discuss, not as closed issues
- Identify the facts of the observed behavior and events, not interpretations or inferences. State what happened, what the effect was and, if appropriate, what behavior needs to be changed. Be clear about the magnitude of any problem: career development, minor concern, major issue, limited observation. If you cannot give an example then leave out the comment.
- Focus on Behavior, not Personality. We can change our behavior, not our personalities. Just because the behavior is a problem, doesn't mean the individual is a "bad person." Assessments are about what we do, not who we are. Avoid using "you are..." Instead; use "you did..."
- Accept responsibility for your role. Be prepared to accept that you may have contributed to the problem.
- Identify two to three (2-3) competencies for growth or development: Identify the particular university competencies that are important to you. How are these important to you? What will they do for you, for the department, for Wittenberg? What are the ways you see that you can improve in these competencies? Review the position descriptions and update it as necessary
- Discuss career goals. Use the evaluation process to discuss both personal and professional goals in order to foster such growth.
The assessment meeting is an important component of the performance management cycle. In fact, it brings closure to the annual goal setting process. Still, any one meeting cannot replace the need for ongoing discussions and coaching. There are a variety of techniques that coaches can use such as giving immediate feedback, helping staff discover their own solutions, and demonstrating a clear interest in the work of people who report to you. More on this later.
For now, start planning those performance assessment meetings! Typically, these meetings should occur sometime between April 15 - July 31. The forms are available on the "V" drive.