Monday, July 18, 2005

Ideas for the Performance Evaluation

I am almost at my one year anniversary at my place of employment. This means that my first performance evaluation is coming up fast. This is another detail that the powers that be often neglect to tell those out in the job hunt. You learn about it once you get hired, but it would help to have a sense of what such a process entails and how to prepare for it. Procedures vary from employer to employer. The employee handbook/guide should be one of the first places you should be reading as you prepare for this. If you have done well throughout the year, kept track of accomplishments and areas to improve over time, getting ready for the evaluation itself should be a little easier. I have managed to keep track of some things. When I started here I just created a simple Word document and labeled it "accomplishments list" for the academic year. Every time I completed something, I entered it in. It was not perfect, but it certainly gave me a headstart for the upcoming evaluation. I personally find helpful the idea of making a portfolio. For me, this comes from my teaching background. I wish I would have been a bit more diligent in pulling those artifacts together, but at least they are in a place where I can get my hands on them.

For those out there who may be facing this process, the ALA-APA's (that is the ALA's Allied Professional Association) Library Worklife featured an article on "How to Prepare for a Performance Evaluation." I would link to it, but unfortunately you need a subscription to access articles. My director has access to it, and I get a password from her. You can likely check if your library has a subscription already. The article can be found in Volume 2, Number 7 for July 2005. It is written by Christine Martin. Since I am not linking, I will summarize some of the suggestions, which I hope readers may find helpful:

  • You need to know who will be the evaluator and on what you will be evaluated. This may sound simple at first. What it means is not only knowing who is writing that evaluation. It also means knowing how you will be reviewed in terms of your job description. Don't know your job description? Get a hold of it. If it is out of date, you may have to do the updating. A key question to ask, according to the author, is "what is different or better because I am on the job?"
  • Build a file of your accomplishments. Document your victories throughout the year. This includes articles published, conferences attended (especially if you presented), notes from coworkers, customers, or supervisors. For instance, I have some thank you notes from faculty I have provided instruction for that I might consider using for this. For projects completed, be ready to discuss its results.
  • Prepare for the evaluation as well by asking questions. Bring up any items you would like to discuss. The article provides some sample questions an employee should ask him/herself as they prepare. For example: what critical abilities does my job require? What do I like about my job? What don't I like? How could my supervisor help me? What have I done since my last appraisal to prepare myself for more responsibility? (this may not be as applicable if it is the first time, and you have no prior appraisals. But the part about preparing for more responsibility is always applicable). Also look at your personal career objectives, and be prepared to set new goals for improvement.
  • Keep in mind your supervisor is nervous too about the process. You should expect a written copy of your evaluation after it is completed. This copy may include future goals and a plan to achieve the goals.
The article is almost like a checklist. I think I will be doing a combination of a checklist (have my documentation ready for the portfolio) and some kind of reflective statement (this may take more time, but I tend to work well when I can take the time to write things out). Anyhow, I hope readers out there will find this useful.

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