Performance Reviews & Spirituality

It's that time of year, at least in schools across America.  Performance reviews mark the end of an academic year and they often strike fear into the hearts of many.

This is often due to the fact that many academic managers (i.e. department chairs, principals, etc.) are not trained at the art of doing reviews in a helpful way.  They often use an outdated form that feels too sterile to be helpful on any kind of human level. Many are also afraid to be brutally honest with employees.

In schools, this lack of honesty has led to major problems.  It prolongs the working "life span" of a bad teacher and in academia, the longer you keep someone, the harder it is to fire them.  Consider the case of New York City, where it's nearly impossible to fire a teacher. I'm not kidding.

So what can you do to make reviews helpful on a deep level?  Here are some recommendations:

  1. Use more than one. It's not fair to only have one review.  Imagine if you were judged on one moment in time- you want to look for a body of work.

  2. Include a self evaluation that each employee must do. To get the conversation going, I like to invite employees to do a self evaluation as part of the process.  Self reflection going a long way.

  3. Be honest even when it hurts. Don't candy-coat things. Be charitable and honest.  People will respect you more when you are honest.  It may hurt initially but they'll thank you later.

  4. Work on strengths. As Marcus Buckingham says, "The best strategy for building a competitive organization is to help individuals  become more of who they are."  Most people can change a little but not more than that.  Focus on what they are good at and try to replicate that success in other corners of their job.  This is not about self esteem but about building strength literally within a person.

  5. Talk about the spirituality of work. If we really believe that there is a spiritual side to work, talk about it.  When did you tap into this?  When do you feel least spiritual?  How is God using you at work?  For those in a secular workplace, you could substitute this with an honest conversation about mission, vision and goals.

One final thought- always be prepared. Never walk into a review without a gameplan and try not to surprise someone.  Results are best found when two people are on the same page.

*photo by epistomagrapher