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How to put your best foot forward in a performance evaluation

Much attention has been given recently at MIT to improving the performance evaluation process. Training has already begun for administrative staff in giving performance reviews (see the article on Training). Training also will be provided for those who receive performance reviews.

The Women's Forum got a jump-start on the topic last week at their meeting about receiving performance evaluations. Their brainstorming session focused on how to prepare for reviews in the following timeframes: throughout the year, just prior to the review, and during the review itself. The session was planned by Ruth Seidman, Joan Doucette, Emmi Snyder, Mary Rowe, and Rae Simpson.

The participants at the Women's Forum meeting sat in small groups with a facilitator for each group. They shared experiences and ideas and then listed ways to get ready for a performance evaluation. The ideas were recorded, and the information and suggestions have been consolidated into a document. This will be available through Margaret Ann Gray's and Dr. Rowe's offices. The following are some of the ideas on how to prepare for a review:

During the year:

  • keep a file of accomplishments, ideas and kudos
  • document ways you have saved time and/or money
  • take development courses
  • keep and update an inventory of your skills
  • conduct a personal time review -- how you spend/manage your time

During the week or day prior to the review:

  • prepare a list of goals for the next year
  • ������������������review the records you've kept about yourself during the year
  • ������������������complete the evaluation form
  • give the form to your supervisor ahead of time so you are both prepared
  • when scheduling, keep the review day as free as possible
  • ������������������get a good night's sleep

During the review:

  • ������������������describe your accomplishments in factual terms
  • ������������������don't be overly modest
  • ������������������ask questions about what you do well and what could be improved
  • ������������������make suggestions
  • ������������������tie your work to the mission of the whole department
  • ������������������take notes

As one of the 56 people at MIT recently trained to present sessions on Mastering Performance Reviews and Receiving Performance Reviews, I was pleased with the success of the Women's Forum event. Both giving reviews and receiving them, when done well, empower all concerned, and progress in this important area is being made.

The School of Engineering, where I work, has completed the training of all of its administrative staff in giving performance reviews. The schedule for training the support staff in receiving reviews is being developed and will be released soon. If you have questions about training in your area, contact your personnel officer for further information.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 13, 1995.

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