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New training to assist personnel review process

"Performance appraisal," "annual review"-- words that often bring on anxiety for both the reviewer and the reviewee.

Two new courses on giving and receiving appraisals, together with deployment of some 35 specially trained staff members across the Institute to acquaint everyone with how to use them, should alleviate that problem.

Training modules in the performance appraisal courses include understanding the benefits for the reviewer and for the person being reviewed, using listening skills to create a climate of openness and respect, setting and reaching individual and organizational goals, identifying and managing conflict, maintaining honesty and establishing informal review schedules.

During the summer, 35 administrators participated in a three-and-a-half-day program to learn the dynamics of performance evaluation and practice the skills involved. Since then, they have been working with managers to implement the new procedures in their areas.

Using staff members to bring management skills into their work situations is a new design for training at MIT, according to Margaret Ann Gray, captain of the Reengineering Training and Development Planning Team. In addition to the intensive workshop, course leaders have an ongoing e-mail forum in which thay discuss issues they encounter and ways to resolve them. They have also attended additional meetings to prepare themselves to roll out the courses. Topics of these meetings have included tips for training presentations, supportive confrontation and diversity.

The training materials, based on a commercial product developed for higher education, were tailored for MIT by the Reengineering Training and Development Planning Team. Additional assistance was provided by Alyce Johnson of Personnel, Rebecca Chamberlain of the Administrative Advisory Committee and Michael Weinberg of the Working Group on Support Staff Issues.

Annual written reviews are mandated in the human resources principles developed by the Reengineering Steering Committee (Tech Talk, December 14, 1994). The appraisal courses are part of a larger MIT commitment to provide training for new skills redesigned work at MIT will require.

Course leaders trained so far include:

Katherine Allen, Information systems, Lisa Bartolet, Industrial Liaison Program, Patricia Brady, Center for Real Estate, Richard Brewer, Office of Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, Carolyn Bunker, Bursar's Office, Constance Cahill, biology, and Christine Cavanna, Computing Support Services.

Also Rebecca Chamberlain, Architecture, Robert Clark Jr., Audit Division, Joseph Connolly, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Robert L. (Larry) Donaghey, Physical Plant, Dierdre Dow-Chase, Media Lab, Thomas Duff, Office of Sponsored Programs, and Virginia Esau, Center for Materials Science and Engineering.

Also William J. Fitzgerald, Information Systems, Jeannette Gerzon, Career Services and Preprofessional Advising, Stephen Gorman, Comptroller's Accounting Office, Jacqueline Granville, Plasma Fusion Center, Genevieve Hammond, Alumni Association, Valerie Hartt, Telecommunications, and Jarmila Hrbek, Technology Licensing Office.

Also Alyce Johnson, Personnel Office, Bonny Kellermann, Treasurer's Office, James H. McCarthy, Personnel, John O'Connor, Audit Division, Elizabeth Ogar, Resource Development, Barbara Peacock-Coady, Leaders for Manufacturing and Laxmi Rao, Physical Plant.

Also Joe Recchio, Alumni Association, Carl Seagren, Housing and Food Services, Janet Serman, Alumni Association, Diana Strange, Alumni Association, Paula Suvanto, Center for Space Research, Athelia Tilson, Resource Development. and Jennifer Walsh, Personnel.

Additional course leaders will be trained early this fall.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 20, 1995.

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