Do you receive performance evaluations?
Whether or not we look forward to them, performance reviews (evaluations) are part of a good organisational culture. Despite this, and even in some terrific organisations, there are instances in which assistants go years without a single formal performance review. I know; I was one of them. Systems were in place and yet, over the space of more than a decade in a truly fine public sector setting, only the very first executive I supported invested the time and care required to formally document what I was told anecdotally.
In fairness, the second executive I supported there did begin the process. One day, we had our usual meeting after his return from travels. We sat together in his office and went through our respective lists of updates, challenges and progress, and then he showed me the handwritten evaluation he’d begun on his flight home. We had a positive discussion of the comments and observations he’d made to that point, and then … that was it. I was with the organisation almost another nine years, and was promoted to supporting a C-Suite executive, yet nothing else was documented. There were a number of discussions of my performance, typically unfolding within the course of routine meetings. As well, I routinely advocated for – and was generously supported in – professional development opportunities and more.
Are evaluations and reviews important?
Is formal feedback, including identifying objectives and opportunities, necessary? I’d suggest it’s good for a number of reasons. In the private sector, where I began my career some time ago, we didn’t have formal sit-downs. With each of the executives I supported in that national corporation, we did cover off matters that would now be reflected within a formal evaluation or review process, yet we did so in the context of day to day conversations rather than through a structured process. I always knew where I stood.
Practices associated with performance reviews form part of an organisation’s culture, and support employee engagement. We hear a lot today about stakeholder relations, and how challenging it can be to quantify organisational culture. None of us who worked at that corporation – in BC’s head office of what was known as A. E. LePage when I joined it – needed a measuring tape, though, to tell you that place of business was home to a stellar organisational culture.
I may not have received formal evaluations during my 15+ years with the corporation (and evaluations were not in order for the role I held in my last few years there; in that role, peoples’ results spoke for themselves), yet to this day I have correspondence and letters of acknowledgement from some of its most senior executives. They knew their people, and were unstinting in their praise when we did well. Equally important, the culture provided opportunities for people who were skilled, committed and keen. I learned a great deal from the generous people and high standards of that corporation, Royal LePage, and insights that serve me well to this day. I went from being an executive secretary whose role encompassed HR responsibilities. After leaving my role supporting the Treasurer to work with a VP, I learned about marketing. When that VP was promoted and I moved on to support him in his new role, I was delighted to also take on editorial roles before being appointed a corporate trainer within the organisation. To this day, I’m still in touch with people I met there four decades ago.
Preparing for performance reviews
If we agree that effective performance management and review practices can contribute to employee engagement and organisational culture, the next step is considering how to prepare for such reviews. It’s not uncommon to hear from assistants who find it challenging to prepare for performance reviews, and you’ll see I’m inviting you to dive into this topic in the questions below.
Opportunities for self promotion and negotiating
Any of you who have attended my conference presentations or webinars on self-advocacy will know I believe we need to be able to articulate our wants and needs. To do that, we also need to be able to differentiate between the two! Once we ‘re able to define and communicate those goals, things or opportunities we want or need, the next step is being able to negotiate for them. You won’t be surprised, then, to see that I’m again asking you some questions associated with self promotion and negotiating skills.
Are you ready? Tell me …
How do you feel about all this?
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