It’s that time of year again, Performance Evaluation. As a supervisor I am involved in several of these a year, but once a year, I switch chairs and become the evaluated. At Ebsco we look at the process as goal setting for the upcoming year. Our focus is to discuss where the employee would like to be and then determine how we, as a team can get them there. Very positive and not intimidating right? Not when you change chairs. In my role as a supervisor I really look at the process in the light of development, change chairs it becomes, Oh Hell, what did I really accomplish last year. It becomes time to reflect on your performance for the past year and be EVALUATED.
As I switch roles, I realize that most employees probably have the same reaction as I do. “They are going to evaluate me.” We ask the employee to fill out a self-evaluation and then the supervisor fills out their part of the review. The two parties then meet, recap the previous year and jointly create goals and a plan to reach them the following year. As a supervisor my focus is always on the goal setting aspect. Sitting on the other side of the desk and my focus is now on the review aspect. I am concerned that employees become so focused on the review part that they do not put their full attention on the more important goal setting. I don’t think a review of past performance can be eliminated. Agreeing on where you are is the first step in determining where you want to go. How can supervisors shift employees attention to the goal setting aspect? First off, I think we need to accept that the employee comes into the meeting with a different mind-set. As a supervisor I have never really looked at this. I’m focused on the goal setting and assume they are too. Probably poor listening and observation but that was last weeks blog so I will not go into that. I think as supervisors we need to understand that this process can be intimidating to employees and they don’t always know what to expect. They may be emotionally charged and supervisors need to accept and prepare for this. People do want feedback, but the formalized evaluation is still intimidating.
As we enter the interview, the supervisor must state the intention of the meeting. “We are here to determine where you are in the company, where you want to be and how we can get you there.” “Let’s start by reviewing where we are now and look at the previous year.” Entering the meeting in this manner states the real purpose and puts the review section as a less significant portion of the intended process. After you have completed the review section its time to look to the future. Goal setting must come from the employee. As a supervisor you may make suggestions and participate in the process but meaningful goals must come from the individual. Ask them where they want to be in one year. What things would they like to learn and different tasks or jobs they want to tackle. Part of your role is to keep goals realistic while still making them a stretch. If a new hire states they would like to be CEO in a year, you will need to bring a dose of reality to the conversation. On the other hand if their goal is to show up for work everyday, I think a little challenge might be needed here. Help them through the process but let them make the final determination. Help them to make it a SMART goal. Help them to phrase the goal so it is measurable and has dead lines. Make the goal really mean something.
After you have a SMART goal, you both agree on, it’s time to make a plan on how they will accomplish it and how you and the organization will help them. This is important. People need resources and support from the organization to achieve their professional goals. If you are serious about them accomplishing the goals, then you must be prepared to do your part. I ask my supervisors, and do myself, create a spread sheet listing the employee goals followed by six spaces. These spaces are labeled at two month intervals from the date of the meeting. I email this form to the employee every two months asking them to fill in what progress they have made and what assistance they need from me. I call it a conscience form. It helps keep us both focused on what has been done and what is needed to be done to reach their goals. Most companies that ask employees to set annual goals do not mention the goals again until the following years review. It’s hard to think they are serious about something they only talk about once a year. The follow-up to the goal setting process shows the supervisors commitment to the employees growth. It is a win for the employee the supervisor and the company.
So let me change chairs again and get back to my evaluation. I have finished my review of the previous year. It takes time if you attempt to use examples for your responses. Without the examples it’s not much more than an opinion. It is humbling when you find items you really haven’t improved upon the past year. Grammar and writing skills are included on my evaluation and I think anyone following my blog knows I didn’t score myself high there. The good, the bad and the ugly, I have completed this section and am beginning to look at what my goals are for the following year. I am looking at personal not organizational goals. The organizational goals like sales and profit numbers are part of my job already. These goals are for personal improvement at Ebsco. When I meet with my supervisor we will finalize these but I want to have my ideas down. After I finalize my ideas I begin to look at how I am going to achieve these goals. Some of them are behavioral in nature and hard to make into SMART goals. I must have a way to know when I get there or it is nothing more than wandering around. So I will develop the goals into SMART goals. After I finalize them with my boss, I will formulate a plan to achieve them. I can break them down into small pieces and add them to my routine at work.
So I hope you see me doing some things differently over the next few months. A big part of my job is continuous improvement and thar includes myself.
One thing I will change is to be a little more sensitive to how people feel when they have evaluations.