Do you consider yourself above average?
Are you one of those folks who always does everything they are expected to do?
Over the past couple of months I spent many hours doing annual reviews. I did my own self-evaluation, the evaluation of my doctors after they finished their own self evaluations, the evaluations of many of my peers, my boss, my partner-vice president, plus a variety of others with whom I work who requested my input. All in all I probably did some form of written and/or verbal review for about 60 individuals.
Sometimes this bothers me.
I mean, the time it takes bothers me. But most of the time (mostly when I am not doing them) I believe they are helpful to at least one of us, and hopefully both of us. Its hard to not become jaded by reading so many self-evaluations and trying to avoid using platitudes when actually performing the review. Some folks routinely give themselves the highest possible grade in all areas. Others tend to rate themselves on the low side.
The tendency, of course is to tell everyone they are wonderful, since we always want folks to walk away happy--or at least walk away without argument. How does one stay truthful yet forthright? Open and mentoring without being critical and making folks feel uninspired?
In fact, everyone IS wonderful, in their own way.
The key is to find the one thing they do better than anyone else. Some folks may do many things better then the majority of their colleagues, and that 's great. But even those who have many issues to work on need to hear about their positive attributes. And that is what I find so useful about these reviews.
I am able to look at all the physicians in my department and find their special talents, so that I can comment on those abilities, and help them to grow that part of their personalities. It helps me to be able to keep that knowledge in my heart the rest of the year. Makes it much easier for me to tell other chairs or my boss how great the docs in my department are and really mean it. Once I have identified the key positive attribute for each one, it makes it easier to identify with them the areas in which they might not be excelling, and encourage them to work on those aspects, which can then become goals for the coming year.
I also find that I can ask for feedback in an open ended way, to make sure that I am meeting people's needs. This helps me to be able to fine-tune my approach to running my department, and my abilities as a mentor and supporter of my people. Am I accessible? Have I helped you solve any problems that have come up this year? Where and when could I have performed better as your leader? Usually, I have opened them up, helped them to feel good about themselves even if we have talked about some areas in which they need to improve, and they will tell me what they are thinking.
Some other leaders have advised me to leave the performance reviews to the section heads, and have them do the evaluations for the rest of the faculty. I could do that. I have the right and authroity to decide that this is how I would do it. But I don't want to. I believe that each of my faculty members deserves to have my undivided attention for at least an hour a year, and to receive feedback directly from me. Some come to me with issues all year, but some try very hard to "not bother" me, and so I may not really know them very well. I like knowing people. I like communicating, and I think that having the process of the annual review to remind me to connect with each of them as individuals is a great thing.
It is always amazing to me how nervous people get when they know they are coming to see me for their annual review. I have never done anything bad during a review, so I am not sure why that is--just human nature I guess. None of us really like to be judged--at least when there is a chance the judgement might not be wonderful.
Have you experienced the annual review process?
I would love to see your comments, whether from the employee side, the manager side, or the spouse or detached observer side. What is your perspective on the annual process. What works, what doesn't, how should it be done to do it better?