What is your most dreaded time of year? Some answers I’ve heard include cold and flu season, tax season and pothole season (for my Northern readers). I’m sure these rank high up there for most people, but I know my choice isn’t included on this list. For me it is the annual performance review season (or it is now that I’ve moved away from the potholes)!
Throughout my work history, I’ve experienced performance reviews from every angle – as an employee, as a manager and as an administrator to faculty – and I’m not sure which is worse.
As an employee, when I was faced with completing my self-appraisal form, I would stare at the question “Describe your most significant accomplishments this past year” and couldn’t think of a single thing I’d done yesterday, let alone a full year ago! And then came the meeting to discuss my performance review with my supervisor, who would glance at what I’d spent hours writing, only to toss it to the side and discuss his own perspective on my achievements.
When preparing performance reviews for my team, I faced similar issues. It was difficult to remember everyone’s achievements over the past year, in addition to my perspective being skewed by more recent memories. When meeting with each individual I would hope that they wouldn’t bring up something significant that I had forgotten, leading me to rewrite their review. This oversight can be embarrassing and time consuming.
For the faculty, my involvement in their annual performance review consisted of completing requests for information on the number of grants they had submitted, or the amount of active funding they had over the past year. Because they would often start this process last minute, I would typically have little time to complete the request. Depending on the size of the person’s portfolio – this request could keep me bogged down for a few hours for each faculty person.
How can the performance review process be improved?
To prevent the last minute struggle to complete performance reviews, the process needs to be managed throughout the year. As an employee, you should be your own advocate and keep track of your progress on an ongoing basis. Some examples include:
- Discussing expectations with your supervisor
- Documenting individual goals
- Maintaining a work journal to track accomplishments
- Saving emails showing positive feedback
- Monitoring your workload
Be sure to keep all of this information saved in a central location that is easy to locate. By tracking this information throughout the year, you will have an excellent foundation to prepare a personal review of your performance and be primed for a discussion with your supervisor.
As a manager, you should encourage the same process for your team. Make yourself available to meet one-on-one with your staff to discuss expectations and establish individual goals. Throughout the years, as you show that their performance reviews are used to make fair decisions regarding salary increases, identifying training needs and assigning responsibilities, your team should come to recognize the benefits of tracking their own performance throughout the year.
One way to monitor the workload of yourself or your team is through the use of grant tracking software. At any point, you could pull reports to indicate how many accounts you manage or how many grant submissions you have processed over the course of the year. In relation to my last post on Late Grant Submissions, you could also produce reports to show the number of the submissions you processed that were submitted last minute. Having a report showing your workload will be useful in reviewing your own performance, but also may be useful for your supervisor to recognize whether work needs to be distributed more evenly.
For your faculty, their performance review could request data on the number of proposals they have submitted or their active funding throughout the past year. With grant tracking software, these reports are simple to produce. Additionally, reports could be used to track trends such as their success rate with individual sponsors, funding rates over multiple years or the percentage that their budgets were cut. These reports could be used to provide a more comprehensive review of an individual’s research portfolio.
Grant tracking software gives grants administrators the tools to monitor their workload as well as a simple way to produce various reports. Examples of grant management software solutions frequently used in research intensive institutions include the Department Manager, College Administrator, and Research Administrator products provided by IT Works. For more information regarding these products, contact the IT Works team.