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Writing a Mission Driven Employee Performance Review: Considerations for Sexual Assault Coalitions

by Kathleen Arledge, former Organizational Services Coordinator, Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

This article was written by the author for the RSP Executive Director Manual

Few sexual assault coalitions look forward to the annual performance review. Tensions may arise because we are uncomfortable criticizing employee’s work, we sometimes have little faith in the legitimacy of the evaluative process, and we can hold conflicting expectations about the purpose of performance reviews. When done correctly, however, a performance review can provide invaluable feedback for the entire organization. It can increase levels of work satisfaction, employee retention, and productivity.

The purpose of this section is to highlight the purpose of performance reviews, and to illustrate procedures for effective review process.

What type of Performance Review is right for my Coalition?

In recent years, the performance review has become a corporate icon. National human resource firms offer streamlined performance reviews through computer generated software or on-site technical assistance. Organizational theories for successful reviews abound, and large corporate enterprises claim to utilize these “proven” methods to increase employee morale and boost productivity rates. With so many trend setting performance review techniques available, it can be difficult to decide upon the method that is best for your sexual assault coalition.

Despite the glamour and glitz offered by these “high-tech” methods, the basic tenets of performance reviews have held steady and true. When deciding upon a performance review technique for your sexual assault coalition, consider the following three tenets:

  1. An evaluation of employee performance should occur on a regular basis.
  2. The performance review should be transparent and fair.
  3. The performance review should demonstrate respect for the employee, the reviewer, and the organization itself.

Tenet #1: Employee performance should be reviewed throughout the year.

An effective manager identifies potential problems in work performance as soon as the issue presents itself. A performance review is not the time for an employee to hear new criticisms; the employer should provide continuous feedback on a regular basis. To take it a step further, a good manager will maintain an atmosphere of open and honest dialogue; one that facilitates positive communication and opportunity for employee growth. This regular process of evaluation and feedback seeks to involve the employee throughout every step of the evaluation process.

Tenet #2: The performance review should be transparent and fair.

Sexual assault coalitions have a commitment to anti-oppression and anti-rape work; this commitment is demonstrable through organizational transparency and the fair treatment of all employees. To this end, the objectives of the performance review should be made clear to the employee. Objectives used to assess employee performance should be related to the job description (and actual job duties), and the employee should be informed of those objectives upon date-of-hire. When necessary, objectives that are difficult to measure (like integrity, communication, leadership etc.) should be clarified with specific and realistic examples.

The employee should be aware of and involved in their performance review process. Most coalitions provide employees with the opportunity to set their own goals and objectives and comment on the results of the performance review. Some coalitions have designed a calendar of activities that outlines the performance review process on a monthly basis. A good manager will provide feedback that is honest and objective, and the evaluation results will be based upon the job description (not a critique of the employee’s personality quirks).

The author draws caution to performance review techniques that utilize anonymous surveys and employee reports (such as the 360 degree performance evaluation). This practice of collecting information on employees draws question to the level of fairness and transparency within the organization.

Tenet #3: The performance review should demonstrate respect for the employee, the reviewer, and the organization itself.

A process of review should be in place that enhances communication and growth through all levels of the organization. Most sexual assault coalitions seek to create dialogue about goals, professional development, and employee satisfaction during the review process. The performance review is an opportunity to determine what resources the employee needs to move in a positive direction. Furthermore, the review process provides managers with the opportunity to develop their own skills as effective leaders and presents a perspective of the health of the organization.

Performance Reviews: A Holistic Approach to Management

When viewed within the context of a holistic approach to management, a performance review is not about reviewing the employee as much as promoting an atmosphere of positive managerial relationships. A performance review is one piece of performance management, linking expectations, ongoing feedback and coaching, development planning, and follow-up.

This holistic approach to management regards performance evaluations as one component of the supervisory process; the evaluation is considered within the context of clearly defined expectations and encouraged through continual feedback. Remember that performance reviews not only reflect the employee, but the organization as a whole.

Make it your mission to encourage a mission-driven review!