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Evaluations: Giving and Getting - A Waste of Time?

Copyright: Copyright 9-1-1 Magazine, Feature Content

Date: 2011-01-25
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Taking a Time Out To ReThink Values

by Sue Pivetta

Can you describe a productive evaluation meeting?  We all can describe an unproductive but hopefully not typical evaluation session as a one way communications from the evaluator.  “Here is my assessment in writing, sign here.  Any questions?”   Evaluations can indeed be a waste of time - if time is not given to the Supervisor to do the work necessary to prepare.

Without good evaluation systems your agency has no idea what is happening compared to what is supposed to happen with individuals, shifts and the entire agency. Good evaluation processes and forms provide responsible supervision and direction. Evaluations provide documentation of the agency’s accountability to manage the center responsibly.

Regular effective evaluations improve communications and morale. Through evaluations, the agency can look for common themes and if found can set goals for organizational training at all levels. Most importantly, taking the time to compile and process the information from the evaluations can be a pro-active noticing of potentially dangerous practices, methods and habits before they become a problem.

 

Time Has Much Value

Formal written yearly evaluations can only be valuable if the evaluator has had the ‘time’ to bring to the evaluation examples of the work of the person.  The work brought is evidence, confirmation, support of the ratings both HIGH and NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.  And in the event the person is doing adequate work with a few notations in either direction, the needed changes will be clear in living color.  Supervisors can create a two way dialogue around the calls brought to the session. “How do you feel about the work you did in this call?"  Providing exceptional work samples say to the person they are recognized, valued and appreciated.

Evaluation time can be an open-direct-trusting-efficient-accurate exchange of information, experiences, perceptions and feelings about accomplishments, expectations, actual performance, and needs leading to setting goals, guidance, improved communications, increased trust and renewed commitment. 

Again time is needed.  To accomplish all this, the evaluator would need to spend more time listening and less time telling.  The evaluator could open the session with open ended questions such as, “Hi, it’s good to be here with you.  This is a time we can talk all about you.  How are things going for you here at work? What are you expecting from this evaluation time?  How do you feel you are doing?  Are you seeing any training you would like to attend or do you need any help with anything?” 

Time Never Changes

Time isn’t the only enemy.  Possibly the form is too complicated or not understood yet status quo keeps these forms around without assessment. Who has time to look for or create a better evaluation form!  Maybe raters are uncomfortable with their role evaluating by gut instinct, and no time to properly assess the ‘work’. When these things happen, evaluations collectively lose their validity with the employees.  Most importantly, if the historical perceptions of evaluations are negative or perceived as a non-entity this results in evaluations that can actually be damaging to the agency. 

Consider these seven instances when formal evaluations become destructive:

  • When not timely or consistent
  • When perceived as a gotcha
  • When not used with a measuring tool
  • When not believed
  • When not consistent with prior feedback
  • When viewed as wasted motion by either party
  • When not given by a competent source (can be a perception not a reality)

 

Time Never Changes: We Do

William Penn said that time is what we want most, but... what we use worst.  Even now, reading this article you may be thinking, where is this time supposed to come from?  Time doesn’t come from anywhere, it is just a constant that does not alter itself for our needs.  You have so many minutes and so many things to accomplish in those minutes.  You cannot make more time.  You cannot give someone more time.  What you value the most, you will spend doing - in the time you have.  What is needed is not time.  What is needed is the organization of values.  What do you value the most?  What do you need to value in order to keep the promise of managing or supervising to ensure the work of 9-1-1 is keeping its promise to serve. 

 

Sue Pivetta is president of Professional Pride, Inc.   She has worked in emergency communications since 1989 as a college instructor, consultant, workshop leader and author.   She teaches adult learning through her book and workshop The Exceptional Trainer.  Contact Sue through her website www.911trainer.com

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