Sixty miles west of Boston, Massachusetts there is the small New England town of Sturbridge. Located at the junction of I-90 (The Mass Pike), and I-84 it has become known as the "Crossroads of New England". The town was first settled over 300 years ago, and like other small New England towns it has grown just enough over the years to be in a difficult place today. How do we embrace the future without forgetting how we got to our present? How do we attract the right kind of growth, and maintain who we are? And, what about our culture out here in Central Massachusetts?
These pages will cause one to think about how to protect what we have, our future direction, and how to move on in the very best way.
Those thoughts, and other ramblings, will hopefully inspire more thought, conversation, action, and occasionally a smile...
...seems to be working so far
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Passing Grades Are Important Throughout Life
The job evaluation is an important part of grading our performance. Doesn't matter what our job is, someone other than ourselves will rate our performance. At a conventional job it is usually our immediate boss, or someone in Human Resources that hands out our annual review. That review is meant to show areas for improvement, and to acknowledge what we do well. If we are the single parent, then our review may come from relatives, or teachers, or in some cases , the Commonwealth.
Here in Central Mass even farmers have an annual review, that's what Fairs are about. Blue, red and white ribbons are awarded to those that have submitted their work for review. Red, and white ribbons are prized just as much as the ultimate blue ribbon. Those ribbons acknowledge a job well done, but also tell us that someone else has performed better. The ribbons set a goal for the farmer: to win the blue ribbon next year.
I've had my share of performance evaluations. Many have been great, and some have been, well, not so great. With some of the "not so great" evaluations I have chosen to improve, and subsequent evaluations have shown that I did. Other times, I felt I was being unfairly graded, and I wished my boss would retire, or move to Uruguay before my next one.
Performance evaluations are also a private thing. Most companies treat them as they would treat how much you earn each year. But, there are times when evaluations can be had for public consumption. Public officials are subject to this, in fact, any public employee is also subject to this. Is it a good thing?
That depends on the intent of the person obtaining the information, and how the information is ultimately used.
Let's say a small town hires a person to administrate things in the town. Let's call that person a Town Administrator for lack of a better word. Now, let's say that person performs well. Great. Give him a good evaluation, and keep him on another year. This is how the system works.
If that person has an off year, well then it must be addressed as the events occur obviously, but they must also be addressed in the annual review as well. After all, the person was hired to perform well for the benefit of an entire town, and if that is not going as well as it should it does need to be addressed.
But, who are the evaluators? Are they the people that hired the administrator initially? Is it a separate board? And, more importantly, if the evaluation isn't what it should be, for whatever reason, and it does get into the publics hands, should it become the fodder for discussion?
Well, it is obvious the evaluators are anyone the town assigns the responsibility to, it most often is the group that hired the person initially. The other question is not as easily answered. If the town relies on the review for continued employment in the position, then, of course, it should be reviewed, and discussed. Past evaluations should also play apart in the discussion as well. Was this year a fluke? Were the evaluators unduly prejudiced? Were the examples of poor performance addressed as they occurred, or were they ignored till the review was presented?
Those are all normal questions to ask. They come hand in hand with the position, but what should never be a part of the process is for private citizens to question the review, and accuse the reviewers of being underhanded, vengeful, and hurtful. That is, of course, unless they have substantial evidence. Real evidence, not 15 pages of time stamped, he-said, she-said BS taken from some meetings minutes, or a video transcript of a meeting that didn't go as well as you wanted. Don't infuse any part of yourself into the events. It's not about you. And, don't point the finger at the reviewers for their foibles as the reason a good evaluation was not made. Stick to facts, not opinion.
Either way, let the evidence talk.
Was a specific event reviewed accurately? Was the result of the event what the reviewers would have liked to have had occur? If it is accurate, and the reviewers did not like how it was handled, then so be it. Nothing more to say.
They are "The Boss". Doesn't matter how well things have gone in the past, it is these events, these current events that are being graded, and if they don't past muster, that's it.
Now, if you want to blame the reviewers for the other persons poor evaluation, that's like blaming your hand for falling into the pit bulls mouth after it was bit, it makes no sense.
So, here we have it, a red ribbon, instead of a blue. Instead of starting a food fight in the Vegetable Pavilion, let's use it as a lesson learned, and expect a blue ribbon next year.
That being said, let it be known that all eyes will be on this during the coming year. If performance on a particular matter is not what is expected, then it needs to be addressed then, and the issue made public, and not kept a secret till review time. And, if by some freak of chance, it is as the detractors have repeated over and over again, a Witch Hunt, then let the vegies fly! And, I'll be there to whip a few zucchinis myself.