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By Michael Angier

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Performance Reviews

Evaluations Should Go Both Ways

Years ago I had a very unfortunate and unpleasant experience when I completed a written evaluation of my administrative assistant. When I sat down with her to discuss what I had written, it became a major upset.

She thought things were going very well—and they were—but she couldn't handle hearing about things that WEREN'T going so well. I was flabbergasted, she was hurt and angry, and we never had a good relationship after that.

My mistake was that it had been too long between evals. I also didn't bring up issues as they happened. My flawed thinking was that they weren't a big deal, and they could be addressed at her formal evaluation.

My personal feeling is that evaluations should be ongoing. I subscribe to having regular conversations about what's working, what's not working and what's next.

And the dialog should be BOTH ways. A subordinate should be sharing what the "boss" is doing that's helpful and the things they're doing that aren't helpful.

There's nothing wrong with formal evaluations at 6-month or 12-month intervals, but there shouldn't be any surprises for either party when they do occur.

It's important for a supervisor to stay open to feedback as to how they operate and how it affects the team. And there should be a process for this to happen.

My personal experience has taught me it's usually system failures and not people failures that result in poor performance.

Action Point
Like any relationship, it comes down to communication. Keep it open, keep it honest, keep it safe, and the relationship will work.

Make sure your systems support good communication and your objectives are clear. And make sure your evaluation process is ongoing, doesn't create surprises and works both ways.


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Last Updated 11/10/2004