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The Run-up to Performance Reviews

EACE Blog contribution by Teresa Olsen, Director of Operations and Strategic Planning at Colgate University Center for Career Services

The Run-up to Performance Reviews

Many people look forward to performance reviews about as much as root canal surgery. But they come around, even if you don’t choose the Novocain option. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

For supervisors:

1) Give your supervisee(s) clear guidelines of what their deliverable should be, and sufficient time to compile their self-review. Similar to all aspects of their job, your employee can’t hit your mark if your expectations are not clear and you are not sensitive to what else is on their plate.

2) I hope this goes without saying, but just in case, it is only fair to evaluate your team member on job responsibilities or goals you have agreed upon with them.  If you find that the person’s actual work is different than their job description, connect with your HR team to re-write and re-launch the job description. Consider when re-launch is appropriate in your review cycle.  If you introduce a new job description it before the review, be clear which copy the person will be evaluated against.

3) Ask for feedback. A review evaluates a supervisee’s work, but the effectiveness of your supervision largely impacts your team’s performance. No matter how strong the relationship is, realize there is a power dynamic in play that will likely impact how directly you receive constructive criticism. ‘What are two specific things I can improve upon that will better set you up for success?’ is a very different question than, ‘How am I doing as your supervisor?’ Lastly, don’t spring this question on them in the review itself.  Let the person ponder it ahead of time.

For supervisees:

1) Periodically ask for feedback in your supervisory meetings. It’s helpful to know how you are doing in real time rather than awaiting for THE annual meeting. Don’t make this a weekly (or biweekly) ask, but it is a fair and helpful question to pose.

2) Take ownership to dust off last year’s goals and review your job description. Show your supervisor that you can manage your own progress and that you are attentive to all of your responsibilities, not just the ones you prefer.

3) When compiling your review, be clear and concrete about the scope of your successes. Substantiate your impact by taking the time to dig out stats tied to each project. Ideally, your supervisor will use your content in more significant documents – annual reviews, updates for trustee meetings, etc.

4) In your self-review, make the connection between your performance and your department’s goals. Consider how your work impacts the bigger picture. Similar to what we teach students in resume, cover letter and personal statement writing, if you are not answering the “so what?” question, you have some distance to go.

Olsen-TeresaTeresa Olsen draws from over thirteen years of experience in career services at Colby College, Dartmouth College, and Indiana University prior to joining Colgate’s senior leadership team. In addition to her position at Colgate, she serves as the executive chair of the Liberal Arts Career NetWORK, a consortium of 37 selective liberal arts colleges, and is an independent external reviewer of career centers. She was recently awarded the 2014 NACE Excellence Award for Colgate’s SophoMORE Connections initiative. Teresa holds a BA from Colby College and an MS in higher education administration from Indiana University.  Her research interests include liberal arts students’ career launch, career development for student-athletes and underrepresented populations, and the assessment of career centers’ effectiveness. 


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