Should I Be Evaluated By Those I Supervise?

Question:

I found out that three days before my yearly evaluation that my manager sent emails to the all of the Customer Service representatives I manage and told them that my evaluation was coming up and she wanted them to truly answer some questions about me to help her better evaluate my performance.

My manager and I had another issue where I got Chinese for lunch and ate it in the office and she came and told me I could not bring Chinese in the office anymore because she didn’t like the smell of it.

I asked if she was serious and she said do not bring it again. She curses when she talks to me and others and I have spoke to the owner of the company and nothing was done.

The questions that she ask the CSR’s were 1. What are your managers strengths? 2.What is her greatest weakness? 3. Do you feel your manager gives you Kudos when you do a good job? 4. How often does she review your job performance? 5. Have the expectations of your postion been clearly outlined? 6. If you could change one thing about your manager’s style what would it be? 7. Does your manager ever speak to you about advancement? 8.How satisifed are you with your manager’s continued training? 9. Please state any additional comments you would like me to consider. She then told them it would be 100% anonymous and she needed them to be honest as their comments would help her better evaluate me. She told them they are not to discuss the email with anyone, that it is completely confidential.

I am just curious if this is a normal procedure? I have never seen any company let Manager’s employees evaluate their performance. I am the person who writes them up and puts them on probation and handles all disciplinary action so I am not sure how comfortable I am with these guys evaluating me.

Any information that you have would be greatly appreciated.

Signed,

Uneasy About Evaluations


Answer:

Dear Uneasy About Evaluations:

It sounds as though there are other things going on, which is often the case in any workplace issue. You and your manager do not seem to have a good relationship to begin with, so naturally that makes you worried about anything she does. She, on the other hand, probably doesn’t feel comfortable with you either, so she isn’t communicating as effectively as she should be. As a result, her methods seem sneaky and designed to be negative, when they could be open and more positive.

The quick answer to your question about whether other companies ask for employee input to enable more complete evaluations: Yes, many do in one way or another. In your situation, the questions being posed to those you supervise are not unreasonable and could elicit helpful information for your evaluation. I can certainly understand how you feel about having those you supervise answer those questions, however–it can be worrisome, especially if there have been problems. The fact that it is a secret and that you were not aware of it, nor is it being done company-wide, is what makes this seem so negative and adds to your concerns, I’m sure. If you had known about this all along your feelings would probably be different.

I often suggest to employees at any level that they keep a copy of their performance evaluation close at hand. They should review it every week and ask themselves what they have done to merit an outstanding in every area.

I have found that people will do positive things they wouldn’t do otherwise if they know it is going to be reflected on their evaluations. I also suggest that they make sure to let their managers know of specific things they have accomplished, to make sure it IS reflected in their evaluations.

When employees are asked for input, the supervisor should know throughout the rating period what questions they will be asked as part of the “employee satisfaction” survey.

In this case, for example, if you had known employees were going to be asked about the level of “kudos” or praise you give them, you would likely have ensured that every employee would have fresh memories of positive comments! They may be able to anyway, but that would have made it certain.

The questions that I think could be problematic are those that ask for your strengths and weaknesses. Employees are not always aware of the big picture of what is required of a supervisor or manager. Thus, what they consider a weakness may actually be a strength for a supervisor and vice versa. So, using those responses will require that your manager intepret them correctly when she develops your evaluation. And, she may do that just fine.

I can understand why you are feeling unnerved, frustrated and worried about this, but it may help your evaluation rather than hurt it. Or, it may not have much effect on it at all. If you find your evaluation has been lowered from last time and you think it is undeserved, then you would want to question it and ask to go to a higher level to point out how it was developed.

You could also bring this up now and ask why it is being made a secretive process. You know your manager, HR, the level above and your company culture and if raising the issue would be viewed as appropriate or not.

At the least, it would seem that you should ask your manager about it when you receive your evaluation. She may tell you about the survey then or not, but you could let her know that you had heard of it and was wondering why you weren’t told. Ask if there are concerns you haven’t been informed about. Especially let her know that you WANT her to talk to you if she has a concern about your work and that you want to do a good job.

Wouldn’t it be interesting if you answered those questions about your manager? Perhaps you will have that chance! In the meantime, since apparently an employee told you about the survey, make sure you convey a positive attitude to them. Don’t say anything negative about your manager. Act as though you feel confident about the results. Don’t add to the discomfort the employees are probably already feeling about it. They aren’t being asked to snitch on you, just to answer a few basic questions. Hopefully your relationships have involved more than discipline, so they will have positive things to recall! That brings us to the underlying issues between you and your manager. It seems to me that if you and your manager were communicating effectively all along, she would not have handled it this way, unless it is organization-wide and she was instructed to do it this way.

You mention the Chinese food issue as a conflict in the past. Many offices have a policy about strong smelling food not being brought into the office, so your manager probably told you something others were thinking! She would have been remiss to not say something about it, most likely. But the fact that you still remember it as an issue incidates that you have resented her over that and other matters.

You will benefit by taking the initiative to solicit her input, respond to her direction and guidance and work with her to improve the quality of customer service. After all, she is your customer, you are hers, you both are customers of the reps and they are yours. And you all are representatives of your company, in outreach to those who keep the company going with their money! That’s why Dr. Gorden often refers to WEGO. It’s the concept that working together with our heads and our hearts makes work more effective and enjoyable.

I hope these thoughts can give you a better perspective about what is happening. I would be interested in knowing how this works out, so if you have the time and wish to do so, keep us informed.

Best wishes to you!

Tina Lewis Rowe