Archives For evaluation

No Surprises!

Kevin King —  June 7, 2016 — Leave a comment

h6EABC3B2It is the time of the year when I am neck deep in employee evaluations. This means I need to remind myself of the number one rule when it comes to crafting evaluations – NO SURPRISES! Below are some things to remember to minimize surprises and will help you conduct a (hopefully) stress free and useful evaluation.

  1. Evaluations should be delivered to the employee no later than 24 hours before you meet with them. Not only is this a common courtesy, it will 1) give the employee time to really take in what you have written and 2) prevent them from reading the evaluation during the meeting.
  2. Your direct reports should never read a criticism for the first time during their evaluation meeting. I tell my direct reports that if they find a criticism in their evaluation that is new to them, then I will take it out. It is my responsibility as a manager to make sure I have discussed any issues throughout the year and have given them the tools to correct the problem. My primary tasks as a leader is to help my team succeed!
  3. The evaluation should not contain goals that are old or no longer relevant. Midway through the year, you should have re-visted with the employee their goals and made changes if needed. This will ensure that you are actually evaluating them on the most current priorities.

By following these tips you will not only provide your direct report with a fair and accurate evaluation, but will also start to build trust that will result in higher performance.

How you doin’?

Eva —  February 18, 2014 — 1 Comment
photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

Evaluations. People have argued the many different, “best” ways to do them, or argued to get rid of them all together. You may love them, hate them, see them as a necessary evil, or be entirely indifferent to them, but at my library, they are here to stay.

Evaluations are an opportunity within the larger performance management cycle to assess and adjust expectations and performance. If the cycle is managed properly, performance evaluations are just one step in a larger, year-long process that feeds into the library’s goals and strategic plan.

When I came here, evaluations were inconsistent and unstandardized. Every year since 2008, we’ve learned a little bit more about what works for us and made incremental improvements. Here’s how we do it now:

Goal-setting: Strategic plan goals lead to annual library goals, which lead to departmental goals, which lead to individual goals. This way, we ensure that we are following the strategies approved by the library board and supported by our own research and data. The management team discusses goals in advance, particularly when goals will overlap departments, to make sure all of the affected managers are on board. Employees have the opportunity to suggest goals, too, as part of their self-evaluation. The goals follow the SMART template: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound.

Progress meetings: Managers meet with individual employees at least once during the year, sometimes as often as monthly, to review their progress on goals. Sometimes goals are abandoned because of environmental or situational factors–stuff happens. Sometimes they are adjusted based on new information. Sometimes the employee has questions or needs guidance. Sometimes new goals are added as the year unfolds. The managers keep notes throughout the year as well as notes from these meetings–this really helps when it’s time to write the evaluations, because you have a broad view of the employee’s entire year, not just that week or that month when you are writing evaluations. Some managers keep electronic notes, others handwrite notes and keep them in physical folders–whatever works best for each manager.

Self-evaluation: In the fall, each employee completes a self-evaluation, reviewing progress on/completion of their goals, summarizing their year overall, and talking about their achievements, contributions, lessons learned, and how they furthered our mission and strategic plan. They are also asked to suggest goals for the coming year, as described above. If the employee wants the self-evaluation included with their evaluation, there is a box to check and line to sign before they turn it in to their manager.

Evaluation & Goal-setting: Each manager completes an evaluation for every employee, referring to the self-evaluation, personnel file, job description, and the manager’s notes from throughout the year. There are standard rubrics in the evaluation form, divided into categories such as Quality of Work, Communication, Adaptability, and Judgment, with scores ranging from 1 to 5: Unsatisfactory, Inconsistent/Developing, Effective/Fully Functioning, Highly effective, and Exceptional. In addition to these general rubrics, managers also pull specific job duties from the job descriptions. The first half of the evaluation reviews the prior year, and the second half sets goals for the coming year. The goal-setting follows the same format I described above.

Calibration: The library director (that’s me) reads every evaluation–my library has about 100 employees. I make specific notes and ask specific questions, but I am also looking for consistency of scoring within the department and across the library. I have managers who are tough graders and others who are easier graders; while I try not to muzzle their personalities, I do nudge them when needed. Usually my questions center on, “Is this performance really Exceptional, or is that performance what you expect from every employee (which would make it Fully Functioning)?” I ask for additional comments and examples to justify individual scores, and I ask questions to ensure that nothing in the evaluation will be a surprise to the employee. I review the goals and ask questions about those, too.

This is not a rubber-stamp situation for me; to date, I have had comments and questions for every manager, every year. I write the managers’ evaluations after I have approved their employee evaluations, because one of the things managers are reviewed on is how they did with their employees’ performance management.

Compensation:  Scores are tabulated and the available merit pool for raises (if any–we didn’t have raises for three years due to budget cuts) is divided based on the scores. This part is a combination of science and art–there are usually natural breaks in scoring where clear lines can be drawn (below this line is 2%, above this line is 2.5%), but when my HR manager does the math sometimes we end up making minor adjustments (below this line is 2.15%, above this line is 2.45%) so that all of the merit pool is allocated. While no one has directly asked me to explain it, having a methodology for calculating increases give me peace of mind; if anyone asks, I have an answer that is clear and defensible, which was not previously the case.

Review meeting: Managers meet with each employee to discuss the evaluation and goals and deliver the compensation information (if applicable). Each employee has two weeks to submit a written statement to attach to the evaluation if they desire, to be included in their personnel file. In this way, employees have the first (self-evaluation) and the last (written statement) word when it goes in their file.

Job description updates: Within the first quarter of the new year, managers recommend necessary changes to job descriptions. Reviewing job descriptions annually helps us keep them updated and relevant, and after the evaluations have been delivered is a natural time to do it since we’ve just been referring to them.

Performance Management form updates: We’ve tweaked the self-evaluation and evaluation forms each year based on manager feedback, staff feedback, and benchmarking. For example, staff have previously requested the opportunity to give feedback about their managers, so this year we added a question to the self-evaluation about how your manager is supporting you currently and how s/he could improve in the future. We got feedback from other staff that they didn’t like it in the self-evaluation, though, so we’ll be working this year to strike a balance between the two. We will also be working on Core Competencies to include in the 2014 evaluations.

And then the cycle begins anew. For most employees, the only part they know or care about is the self-evaluation and evaluation, and that’s understandable. As library leaders, my managers and I see the full cycle; the bulk of our work on this may not readily visible to frontline staff, but the entire performance management cycle is important to our library’s success.

What about you: What is the performance management process at your library?

Full Circle

Eva —  December 19, 2013 — Leave a comment

circle with arrowsIt’s the end of the year at my library, which means it’s performance evaluation time. I may do a deeper dive into our evolving performance management process in a future post; today I want to talk about how my library board has incorporated 360-degree feedback into my evaluation.

Since my first director’s evaluation in 2008, I’ve encouraged staff to share their feedback about my performance with the Board Chair. At first, it was very informal; I emailed the staff and the Friends of the Library Board and said, “if you would like to share your feedback about my performance, here’s the Chair’s email address” (I let the Chair know that I was doing this before I did it, of course).

In 2011, the feedback-gathering process became a bit more formalized, though still pretty casual. The Chair developed a brief feedback form with three bullets:

  1. Please share your thoughts regarding the Director’s performance.
  2. What activities should the Director do more of?
  3. What activities should the Director do less of?

I send the form to all staff and to the Friends of the Library Board with a message that gives the relevant details (Chair’s email address, deadline, that this is optional and anonymous). The Chair then compiles the feedback and the board discusses it along with my self-evaluation as they prepare my annual review.

When I tell other library directors that I solicit anonymous 360 feedback, I often get a lot of incredulous looks and some choice comments. Frankly, most think I’m crazy to encourage my employees to send my bosses unedited, unfiltered feedback about me. “Why would you do that to yourself?” they ask. But the feedback that is given to me has not been surprising: People think I’m stand-offish; too corporate; willing to pitch in where needed; communicative. This is nothing I don’t know already, and nothing too outrageous. If there are any off-the-wall remarks, my trustees are intelligent adults who recognize them for what they are and won’t incorporate the outlandish ones in my evaluation.

Here are the primary reasons why I volunteered for 360 feedback:

  • It gives the board a better sense of my day-to-day impact;
  • Employees have an outlet for their feedback, which gives them a sense of inclusion and influence;
  • It gives the board a better idea of staff concerns; and
  • It improves my evaluation when the board has a fuller picture of my overall leadership of the library.

If I’m brutally honest, though, my decision to have staff provide direct feedback to the board boils down to this: I refuse to live in fear. Leaders cannot be afraid of negative feedback from anyone, whether it’s my employees or my bosses or my patrons or my family. I very much prefer that we put it all out there so we can deal with it. I have no expectation that everyone will love me, and I understand that I can’t make everyone happy. And because People Make Choices, I choose to openly solicit employee feedback because that’s the culture of openness I want to promote here.

I received my 2013 evaluation a few weeks ago, and was surprised when my Board Chair shared that all of the employee feedback was positive–this is the first year that has happened. Several of the comments praised the open and collaborative environment I’ve encouraged. I definitely count this as a library leadership success story!

Do you have the opportunity at your library to provide 360 feedback to the director? Let us know in the comments how it is done in your organization.

How Much Flair?

hhibner —  August 23, 2013 — Leave a comment
photo credit: svet via photopin cc

photo credit: svet via photopin cc

One of my job assignments as a Department Head is to write and deliver annual performance reviews. This is something I don’t mind doing, but which I think is usually a missed opportunity. There is a form I am supposed to fill out about each person, rating them in different areas. It is the same form for each staff person. There is room for commenting, but mostly I am supposed to check a box indicating at what level the person meets each requirement.  The listed requirements are split in half with tasks in one chart and attributes in another. I just check the box for things like “Doesn’t make work for others” (attribute) or “Complex projects” (tasks).

One of the missing pieces to this setup is benchmarks. The form does not define what a complex task is, and it does not say how many or what kind of complex tasks are required to get a check mark in that box – or what it takes to move up to the next level. Attributes are especially tricky. We certainly want our employees to be flexible, not make work for others, and have a good attitude, but how do you measure “nice”? I keep thinking about the movie Office Space where the restaurant manager wants the waitress to wear more “flair” but won’t tell her how much flair is enough.

The other missing piece is that even among librarians, who have the same basic job description, they have different job assignments. For example, all librarians have collection management assignments, but the business reference collection has different goals than the fiction collection. They should be evaluated differently in the collection management category on the “tasks” chart. Their collections have different objectives and benchmarks. I wish I could give credit to each of them for their individual knowledge base and for how well their efforts have translated to patron satisfaction. Just checking a box for “Yup, you did collection management at level 3” is a missed opportunity. Thankfully, I don’t have any co-workers who are difficult to evaluate, but if I did, I would want to give them some defined benchmarks to work toward.

Again, though, that would be really hard to do in the attributes section of the form. How do you quantify attributes for evaluation? How much flair is enough? I would like to see those categories linked to stated core competencies, like those listed at ALA.