Blog prompt: Reflect upon your performance evaluation experiences, as the person being evaluated, the person conducting the evaluation or both. What about the process was beneficial to you? What was not beneficial? In what ways might privilege, power and difference been contributing factors to the evaluation experience?
I’ve experienced performance evaluations from both perspectives — the one conducting the evaluation and the one being evaluated. In general, the evaluations that were the most beneficial (as evaluator and evaluatee) were those that were on-going. In other words, the annual performance evaluation became the formal documentation of conversations we were having all year … and included no surprises. I liked those processes that allowed me to identify specific goals for the year and steps I would take to meet those goals. Similarly, if I were the manager, I liked working with those who reported to me to identify their goals, steps they would take to meet those goals, and the resources they might need to achieve their goals.
Privilege and power are constant dynamics in an evaluation process. One person is evaluating another and while pay increases were never linked to the evaluation processes, a person’s morale, overall performance, and professional development were. As a manager, I could use the evaluation experience to formally acknowledge good work practices, habits, and attitudes. I could also use the experience to more formally document areas for development. In two work experiences, I regularly met with those I supervised so we could continuously talk about the person’s short- and long-term goals. In the one experience where I didn’t meet regularly with those I supervised, our communication (as you might expect) wasn’t as good as it could have been.
I like the 360-degree evaluation process. That is, a process where multiple people have an opportunity to provide input. At my last organization, the supervisor collected the evaluation forms. The person completing the form had to sign it, the results were then summarized and presented to the evaluatee. When a person is allowed to submit anonymous feedback, it seems that it’s easier to lob out negative comments without taking responsibility for the information. Even so, those comments might otherwise go unsaid. So, it’s kind of a mixed blessing.
The process at Pacific, especially in relation to tenure, has been quite helpful. We get 360-degree feedback and the process relies on a lot of reflection by the evaluatee. We have the opportunity to really think about how we go about our work as faculty, how we learn, how we identify areas for development, and how we integrate feedback into our work (our scholarship, our teaching, and our service). Although the feedback is anonymous, I believe that those providing feedback are thoughtful and generally well-meaning. They are interested in helping us identify our strengths as well as areas that could use some work. Being able to engage in self-reflection gives me the chance to see how well my self-evaluation aligns with the observations of others.
Going through my third-year pre-tenure review in Fall 2011 was one of the most satisfying professional evaluations I’ve experienced. I felt like I had a committee who was dedicated to conducting a thorough evaluation and providing feedback that would help me develop as a faculty member. In addition, my colleagues and students (past and present) offered feedback that was touching, heartfelt, and, at times, challenging. As a result, I get to model the type of reflective practice we encourage in others. A pretty good outcome, don’t you think?

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