Review, Refresh and Reposition

by Clare Briner
Moraine Valley Community College
Palos Hills, IL

The summer semester might mean shorter work weeks or lighter project loads, allowing everyone on the marketing and communications frontlines to take a collective breath. It’s a critical time to review, refresh and reposition efforts for success in the coming academic year. It’s also the time of year for employee performance reviews. Dreaded by employees and supervisors alike, the performance evaluation can be a time-consuming, rote activity that leaves everyone feeling as if completing the process is the least important item on the list of to-dos. But, employee evaluations don’t have to be stressful, annoying, or in some people’s opinions, useless. There’s a lot to be gained both practically and interpersonally in the review process. Here are five tips to meet or exceed your goals on your next performance reviews:

  1. Know What’s at Stake:  Some institutions tie incentives to employee evaluations, others do not. If there’s a raise at stake, give your utmost time and consideration to ensure an unbiased review and ratings. Solicit and follow the guidance of your Human Resources team. Ensure that your staff is confident in your ability to be fair and knows you don’t take your influence on their raise lightly. If the evaluations is purely for one’s self-reflection and goal setting, focus less on the ratings and more on tangible feedback and practical advice. The employee always wants to get something out of the process.
  2. Get Strategically Aligned: Be sure that individual goal setting is aligned with your department and college goals. Evaluations are a great time to show each employee how they fit into the overall mission of the department and college. My college routinely tells all staff that “retention and completion is everyone’s responsibility.” For employees who don’t work directly with students, this can be hard to reconcile. Challenging these employees to mentor a student, volunteer at a student event or promote your college’s completion program are simple ways to connect your employees to the bigger picture.
  3. It’s About What They Want: Always leave time at the end of the review to let the employee provide their feedback and ask questions. Ask the employee what they feel needs to be addressed and what they want you to do as their supervisor to ensure their success in the year ahead. Strive to understand their expectations of you so you can help them improve or adapt.
  4. Facetime for the Win: Slate your reviews for an hour, but only plan on using 30 minutes for the actual evaluation. Use the remaining time to connect with your staff members and learn something new about them. You should never undervalue interpersonal relationships between you and your team. People want to be seen, heard and appreciated, and that’s most effective face-to-face. Be present and listen well.
  5. Completion Matters: Don’t drag out the process of completing reviews. It can be fatiguing depending on the size of your team, but set a schedule and stick to it. Your adherence to deadlines demonstrates the importance of the evaluation. Once all evaluations are completed, celebrate it and thank your team for their engagement in the process.

Clare Briner is director of marketing and communications at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois. 

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