It’s that time of year again… no, not spring (though it is), not tax season (already taken care of, refund received and spent), not baseball season (I am SO excited for my Cubbies, knowing full well that my hope for a strong season is likely misguided).
No, it’s time for performance evaluations. Love it or hate it, the end of the year evaluation rolls around every April (or so). And you deserve to have one. And to give them to those you supervise.
Personally, I dislike having these pro forma discussions every 12 months. I don’t like having them with my supervisor, and I don’t like having them with those I supervise. Further, having to review the last twelve months of my calendar, one-on-one meetings, agendas, etc., in an effort to account for major accomplishments, contributions, collaborations, or milestones, is a daunting task.
Then, to have all of those things summed up in a two-page, circle-a-number-and-provide-some-detail form, seems like a lot of effort driven by some anxiety and hope that I’ve done everything expected of me.
I do not like the yearly performance review. I do not like it, Sam-I-Am.
What I do like, however, is ongoing performance feedback. When those I supervise do a good job, I recognize it right then with the person, and then again at a staff meeting (to me, public praise, while possibly embarrassing, gets people the recognition that they so rightly deserve). When something has gone awry – say, a poor attitude, work ethic, or programmatic debacle – I address it immediately. It’s the only way that changes and growth can be made in the short-term and have results for the long-term.
The department in which I work uses a three meeting approach to the formal performance evaluation process. In June I meet with my supervisor and go over personal and professional goals for me for the next academic year. We discuss what I want to be doing, what my supervisor would like to see occur, my own development, and new things that I can do for the organization. In November, we meet again, and we revisit the goals we agreed upon, add to them, change them, update them and otherwise see how things are progressing. Then, in April, I receive my two-page form and have a long discussion about what I’ve done well and areas I need to focus on so that I can continue to develop. This is a fabulous formal process.
Informally, I invite and welcome feedback all the time, and I freely give it as well.
So, as you prepare to give and/or receive your feedback for the year, some things to think about for the next year…
- Positive feedback should be given early and often, privately and publicly.
- A problematic behavior should not be discussed for the first time at the end of the year evaluation.
- Keep a running list of accomplishments, presentations, publications, collaborations, committee involvement, etc., so that when you need to account for the work beyond your work, you can do so pretty easily. I do this for me, and I do it for those I supervise as well (in case they don’t), and it is a great conversation piece.
- Use the performance evaluation as an opportunity to expand skills and to prepare for the next step in your career.
To me, it boils down to this: everyone deserves feedback. Yes, we need it. Sometimes we don’t want it. But it is owed to us as professionals to know how we’re doing at any point in time, to be recognized for the wonderful things that we do, and to have shortcomings brought to light so they can be addressed, remedied, and reconciled.
What other tips do you have for approaching the performance evaluation? When do you prefer to receive feedback? What’s the most effective feedback you’ve received, and what did you do with it?