Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Performance Reviews

My annual review is happening later this week, so I have been thinking about performance reviews. We have tried a few versions of self appraisals, peer appraisals, and employee appraisals over the years. For the most part, I like the forms we are currently using.

Several of my co-workers get to list things I do well and ways I could improve on the peer review form. I get a copy and my boss gets a copy.

Then my boss gets to fill out the employee review. It has lots of room for commentary and summary, so she has ample opportunity to explain the Excellent-Very Good-Satisfactory part at the top of the form.

I also get to review myself. I go over the goals I set for myself last year, decide if I met them, and explain where I did well and where I had trouble. There are categories for things like risk taking, attitude, participation, and communication. I, too, get ample opportunity here to explain myself. Then I write new goals for the upcoming year.

Over all, the routine works well. It's hard, and takes time, but you are really forced to look at what you did over the past year and see where you improved, what you focused on, and give actual examples from the work you performed.

I would only suggest one change to our forms, and that is to make them more quantitative. They are very, very subjective. It is not spelled out clearly exactly how many, how much, what kind, etc. needs to be done in any given area to achieve an excellent instead of a very good or a satisfactory. I'm reminded of that scene in the movie Office Space where the waitress is being berated for not wearing enough flare, but her boss can't tell her how much flare she needs to wear to have enough. Of course, employees should strive to do more than the minimum, but what exactly do you have to do to become "excellent"? Is excellent only in the eyes of the boss? Some employees I've reviewed over the years thought they were pretty excellent in some areas where I would disagree, but without a way to quantify what gets one to "excellent," you can't just say they are satisfactory and not explain what they need to do to improve.

I would also suggest a few additions the review package. Sure, it's more work for the employee, but it would be great to add an updated resume to the packet each year. When you put your career on paper, both you and your boss can see where your strengths are. Those are the things you highlight on a resume. Hey, I look pretty good on paper! It's a way to showcase the accomplishments you're most proud of. In some cases (not mine, thank God!), an employee might need to remind their boss that they have other options and a resume ready to go.

It would also be good to add a copy of the employee's job description. That would force the library to keep their job descriptions current because they would look at it every year, and would also point out very clearly if the employee did what they are being paid to do. It's really easy to get caught up in activities that are clearly not your job, whether by accident or by personal interest. Looking at the job description would remind both parties what the job priorities are.

1 comment:

  1. Wear more flare! :) I'm particularly interested in your post because at Sonar6 we have been doing a lot of work to try and build less subjective approaches to rating performance, especially when it comes to competencies.

    Our research uncovered a couple of interesting points: 1) That having a set of behaviors described that represented what different levels of a competency looked like was helpful (eg what does too little flare actually look like). 2) Giving people a way to view staff in an ordinal fashion.

    This latter point just matches the way human behavior works. We’re pretty bad as human beings at judging something like person X is a 6 out of 10 for leadership, but we’re pretty good at identifying that when it comes to leadership Sally is better than Dave. Most systems ignore this basic element of human behavior, but applied judiciously in an organization it helps everyone get a better idea of what to strive towards.