This post has been the most read one in the last semester. I believe the reason is the need of guidelines around conversations with ‘The Boss’ and guiding principles on providing feedback to him/her is in much need these days.
I will prepare a follow up on this post and I hope is as helpful as this one has been to many. I will keep you posted!
Writing a performance evaluation or providing ‘constructive’ feedback to an employee with performance issues can be a challenging task for any supervisor. Now, imagine that you have to provide constructive feedback to your boss especially when things are not that great. Yes, it is much more challenging but it can be an opportunity to test and prove your own skills as employee that really value and believe in what it does. The purpose of this post is to help as a guideline to anyone in the position to provide feedback to her/his boss; but to be honest I am having somebody in particular in mind when writing so maybe some things can sound a bit off but if you bear with me this can still be useful to you.
So let us adventure ourselves in this challenging task… Let us try to write a performance evaluation for a person in a leadership position within a social service agency.
It seems like quality is measured in a leadership position within social services (our agency) by the commitment and dedication to the agency mission which is to help the community in specific areas. It is valuing and believing in what we do. Quality of leadership is reflected by behaviors and choices that align with the conviction on the objectives that the agency is looking to accomplish. It is a skill to the extent that we see it in action.
Carla has dedicated many years to administration and management in the agency. She has managed administrative tasks that require special attention like budgets as well as daily paper work which it can be sometimes very tedious and requires consistency, follow up and a tremendous patience. She has been an example in that demonstrating a strong management capacity following up with administrative tasks as mentioned before that requires reliability and regularity.
Provide the vision, values and mission of the agency has been always something addressed by the CEO in the agency. Hearing and having a presentation of the vision is inspiring to any employee within the agency. It reminds us why we are here and what we do is related to the mission. So, there is always advantages in providing the big picture to employees. This is an area that need improvement. It has been challenging for Carla conveying the vision and strategy of the agency as well as passing on where the division or team are going. it seems like there is a lack of vision, planning for the future, concrete objectives and the connection of what we do with the agency mission. Sometimes it feels like we are in a survival mood, not planning for the future, just dealing with things that come up. It will be helpful to hear and have a clearer vision and a better understanding that what we are doing aligns with the agency mission. Sometimes it seems like we are not going beyond this month’s results or this year’s budget. I am not sure if there is lack of vision, or being extremely busy with daily tasks but project are not tackle in a pro-active way but more in reacting one.
It will be useful to hear where we are going in the long term as an agency and as professionals. It will be necessary improvement on referring frequently to the vision, mission, and values of the organization in her communications; setting objectives, work-plans, goals, something that can be measured and conquered bringing satisfaction and motivation. It will be inspiring to connect to a bigger picture, planning for the future not only as organization but also as professionals.
This is a challenging area for any leader and it requires willingness to speak out and keep information constantly flowing. This area has been particularly challenging. Role clarity and responsibilities sometimes have been confusing and Carla has not brought up the issue or inquires about it. Issues around communication have been avoided or ignored making difficult to bring it up. She has never asked about or assessed our communication or the need of improvement. Improvement is needed in being proficient in both the communication that informs and seeks out information (gives a voice) and the communication that connects interpersonally with employee. Some things that can help in the improvement of communication are: “Invite feedback. Help others air their concerns and complaints. Foster critical thinking and respect for one another’s talents and contributions. Create a neutral, problem-solving environment in which people can openly consider controversial issues and perceptions.”
We have been working together for several years now. We have met regularly and exchange agendas. Relationship is closely connected to communication. If communication has been challenging it has affected of course our relationship not in the surface but in a deeper level. Communication challenges around vision and objectives have reduced relationship to a mere logistic exchange of information affecting a real investment on growth and professional development. Our relationship have not grow to a point were I have been challenged in order to grow as a professional. We have not reach a level of satisfactory comfort to speak out, or being more direct. I am not questioned or interrogate a lot by Carla, we just discuss logistics. We have not talked about leadership styles, things to improve, better ways to do things, etc. I have doubted her real interest in investing and developing me.
Coaching and Development
Coaching and development others comes natural when communication and relationship flows smoothly. Encouraging others to expand their capabilities and take on additional assignments is part of the leader’s responsibility. Carla makes possible to take additional assignments and learn new responsibilities; however it has happened that those responsibilities or assignments have not been previously discussed with employee and expectations have not been clear lacking communicating the vision, or having clear objectives, lacking the necessary coaching, instruction and preparation to accomplish goals. The opportunity on taking new assignments has happened and it is appreciated but the lack of guidelines and coaching has created confusion around roles and responsibilities. A lot of self-learning and motivation has been necessary in order to avoid frustration. It will be valuable to develop the skill of initiating and deepen communication and relationship with a real interest on growth and development of the staff. Developing this kind of leadership skill based on ‘personal’ power (the right kind of power), not position power will result in building a strong team and achieving impressive results. The ability to influence others and cause them to move in a particular direction is an important skill. This ability to be persuasive is directly related to how much people trust you and how good your communication and relationships are.
As mentioned above, coaching and developing will result in a strong team. No one person can do it all. Carla’s investment in the development of employee will result in a team comprised by employees with different skill sets. The development and diversity of a variety of personal and professional skills among staff will make possible to reach balance with the benefit of achieving goals. Carla strengthening the aforementioned skills like vision, clear communication, strong relationships, and dedicated coaching will produce a strong team that plan, works and accomplishes objectives together.
Carla’s position requires vision, a lot of planning and setting up goals as well as communicating that vision which is translated into clear and measurable objectives. Planning involves making certain assumptions about the future and taking actions in the present to positively influence that future. To plan means to focus more strategically. Plans are important for guidance and focus. We have been involved in a lot of planning through the years, and it has happened that sometimes meetings have not been well prepared with not clear purposes, or objectives to accomplish.
It will be beneficial to have a better understanding of the purpose of the meeting before we walk into it and also an agenda with clear objectives. Sometimes in meetings we get lost in discussions that are all over the place only because the lack of effective ways of leading the discussion or clear vision of the direction we are heading to.
The previous items are related to decision-making. A leader must be able to wade through information, comprehend what’s relevant, make a well-considered decision, and take action based on that decision.
If I can speak freely I should say that are critical areas that need significant improvement.
- There is lack of vision or conveying it so most of the time it affects motivation because is like walking without a concrete direction. It is not very inspiring to work trap in daily assignments and task without a leader who constantly remind us why we are doing what we do and why it is important. The lack of vision is also an obstacle to question what we do or a better way to do it.
- Communication needs considerable improvement. There is a need to invite to provide professional and constructive feedback; make possible to air concerns and complaints or bringing up to light when are underline issues, at least to talk about it. There has been occasions were the white elephant in the room is left there for a long time. Carla should be the one fostering critical thinking, an environment in which we can openly consider controversial issues and perceptions.”
- Being more invested in building a relationship where we both can professionally grow. Being more approachable which is not only an open door policy but the skill or being open to receive any kind of interaction. Being more inquisitive about personal and division development; it will change the perception that is not interested.
- It can be added in the agenda on a regular basis areas of improvement for employee, need of skill development, shaking a bit areas of comfort and prepare for future challenges, etc.
- There is a need of taking more the lead on divisions and programs under her supervision. Leading toward common goals which it can be improving quality of supervision, program success measurements, staff development, etc.
- Planning for the future, being proactive… this an area that needs a lot of improvement. Projects are tackle without careful planning or preparation. It will be necessary to have an agenda with clear objectives. Leading is missing, from the top down guidelines.
- Related to all these improvements mentioned is the necessity of developing decision making skills.
The lack of vision is probably at the root of all the other challenges. Carla needs to develop the capacity to have vision (big picture) which will result in a more decisive leadership with clear objectives follow by the building of strong relationships gaining trust and respect from staff that will work cohesively listening and following her guidance.