Robyn Benson, PSAC

Performing appraisals

PREA process.jpg

While I can’t say the response to our Performance Review and Employee Appraisal contest has been overwhelming, I will assume that—like letters to the editor or to politicians—every one of them stands for a few hundred in a similar vein.

The stories submitted in the comments indicate that the system is, certainly in part, not working the way it was set up to do. That will not come as a surprise to anyone. At its best, the PREA is a means by which a manager works with an employee to set goals and objectives, and evaluates that employee’s on-the-job performance according to strict criteria, based upon the job description and mutually agreed-upon goals and objectives set for the previous year.

It is not intended to be a punitive exercise, but a constructive one. Properly done, it supplements, and summarizes, the feedback that a good manager gives to an employee on a regular basis. It does not demand the impossible, nor should it come as a shock. A PREA is a tool that, used with skill, can be beneficial to both manager and employee.

That’s the theory, but as our contributors have indicated, not necessarily the practice. Doing a PREA before making oneself aware of the employee’s job description is a no-no. Having the employee complete his or her own performance appraisal is a cop-out, and accomplishes nothing.

Reader “Susan” submitted one of the more detailed stories. She begins:

In last year’s PREA (yes, I did have one Mr. Clement!), I was told by an acting manager that discussion is not permitted, and that “giving feedback when receiving feedback is unacceptable.” End of discussion.

She then sketches out precisely how a bullying manager can misuse the process and thoroughly demoralize an employee. It’s hard to read, and not the least amusing, but she is clearly one of our two winners.

The second prize goes to reader “Saro,” whose entry was short and not at all sweet. It refers, not to a PREA, but to a performance appraisal given at the end of a contract. But I think readers would agree that it counts. “Surreal” might be the adjective that describes this tale:

I was asked to sign my assessment, the supervisor had a paper sheet over the body of the document and when I tried to remove it to read it, she pulled it back and said I wasn’t allowed to read it. So I signed it and left. Never did find out what was on it!!!! bahaha

“Bahaha” indeed. It’s hard to imagine a more maddeningly pointless exercise.

The PREA, in its current form, evaluates employees from a manager’s standpoint. But that’s really only half of the story, isn’t it? In an ideal world, structured feedback from employees would be just as useful, to help managers improve. Certainly the stories we received indicate deficiencies on that score. So, a “counter-PREA”? Why not?

In the meanwhile, my congratulations to the winners! Send a comment, which will not be published, with your name and mailing address, indicating the gift card you would prefer.

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This page contains a single entry by Robyn Benson, PSAC published on June 13, 2013 8:30 AM.

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