Feb 13, 2017
Are all supervisors prepared to actually supervise, nurture, and guide their employees to become successful and productive? Not always! When I now think back to my first supervisor job many years ago, I now know how unprepared I was to do so.
I was promoted to a Payroll Supervisor and had 10 staff members reporting to me. On a day to day basis I thought I was doing a good job. Then it came time for performance reviews. It was the DREADED thing you HAD to do once a year. If I only knew then what I know now!
Choosing a score from 1 – 5 to rate them was no problem. But then you HAD to put comments in to justify the score you had given. I had to do my first ‘BAD’ review. This person, we’ll call her Cindy, was the least productive of all my employees. Her work had many errors. She could not stay in her desk chair and was always wandering. Her co-workers even brought a ‘seat belt’ that they attached to her chair to buckle her in and keep her at her desk. They were tired of having to answer her phone!
The dreaded day came when I had to meet with her to go over her performance review. Needless to say it did not go well! She was completely blindsided and was not expecting what I had to tell her. MISTAKE #1.
I had to tell her that her performance was poor, she needed to make less errors, and she be more productive. What I was not prepared to do was tell her what more productive looked like and what less errors meant. MISTAKE #2.
She walked out of the meeting really angry, believing that I was picking on her. She thought her performance was OK and really did not care to be a top performer anyway. I felt really bad and knew that I was going to have to go through the process of written warnings for poor performance with her if things did not change. I then realized that perhaps she does not know what is really expected of her. GREAT INSIGHT… just a little late. MISTAKE #3.
I decided that I would put together a daily schedule of the tasks she was expected to complete. She was to check off and initial when it was done. She also kept track of how many incoming phone calls she had, and how many manual checks she had to prepare on a weekly basis due to errors in the payroll processing. We sat down together and discussed each task and whether she understood how to complete them. We met on a bi-weekly basis to review her progress. It was amazing how these little things could turn a person’s performance around. Because we were keeping track and monitoring things, she could see that, YES, she was making many errors and that she was not productive. She really did want to do a better job but just needed some structure and clearly written expectations to know what a good job was.
Cindy made a huge improvement in her performance and felt good about her job and the work she was doing. I learned big lessons in how to be a more effective supervisor.
MISTAKE #1 – A poor performance review should never be a surprise. Employees should be met with on a regular basis to discuss their progress on goals, overall performance, and any training that may be required. They should know where they stand in regards to their performance.
MISTAKE #2 – Employees should know what is expected of them. How can you expect them to do a good job if they don’t know what a good job means? Telling them they must return phone calls in a timely manner is great! But for me timely may mean in the next hour and for someone else it may mean in the next business day! Clearly define the expectation and have a means to track or monitor them.
MISTAKE #3 – Not all employees work alike. Just because the majority are meeting expectations and understand their job does not mean that everyone does. People work and act differently and may go through the same sort of training and come out with a completely different understanding of simple tasks.
What mistakes have you made when assessing the performance of your employees?