Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A critical review

Hartwick does what are known as "360-degree reviews" for its administrators (vice presidents, directors of offices, that sort of role).

As a faculty person who has interacted extensively with some administrators at different times, I tend to get asked for my input in these performance evaluations.

That input usually takes the form of answers to various questions on a 1-to-5 scale ("strongly disagree" to "strongly agree"). There's also a box for free-form comment on each area of questioning.

I completed one a while ago, and some of the questions just pushed my buttons.

Note that I don't mean this as a dig at our director of human resources. I've worked with her on a college committee and respect the work that she does. My sense is that in this instance she is doing a good job implementing what is "best practice." My beef is with this particular iteration of "best practice," trying to quantify things that may be better left unquantified.

Here are some of the characterizations with which I was asked to agree or disagree, followed by the free-form comments I provided. I hope they help. :)

“Embraces change quickly and easily.”
“Is positive and enthusiastic toward change.”

If I may be permitted to editorialize, part of why I dislike forms like this is that it's not always a good thing to be enthusiastic toward change. We're really interested in whether someone does their job well. Sometimes that entails being enthusiastic toward change, sometimes it requires resisting it, because the proposed change is destructive. The questions seem to embody a too-abstract view of what constitutes doing good work.

“Analyzes complex situations, breaking each into its constituent parts.”

See my previous comments on the nature of these questions. There's a role for analytical thinking, but there's a role for holistic thinking as well. I'm more interested in whether someone can craft a good solution to a problem, less in prescribing how they should reach that solution, and even less in participating in a process that has the prospect of dinging them for not approaching their work in a way that an outside observer deems appropriate.

“Is enthusiastic and positive.”

I appreciate the benefits of enthusiasm and a positive attitude, but as with some earlier questions, I feel the shadow of someone's preconceptions of what constitutes good work. Depending on the mood in which one reads the question, it could be taken as an entirely inappropriate injunction for the employee to correct their inner world, a realm which is none of the employer's damn business.

“Avoids inappropriate situations that put the organization at risk.”

I guess I could have answered "Strongly agree" on avoiding inappropriate situations. I didn't witness her have even have the opportunity to avoid any such situations, but maybe that's because she was so good at avoiding them.

No comments:

Post a Comment