Performance Appraisal Interview

This week we did another interview. This time, we were to interview someone who in charge of doing performance appraisal interviews with employees. I interviewed Douglas Kleven, from Blue Valley Insurance. Here is a brief summary of the questions and answers given during the interview:

What do you do to prepare for performance appraisal interviews? -Set a clear view of what it is I want to get out of the interview… what goals, steps, corrections need to be made.
Do you have your employees do anything specific to prepare for their performance appraisals? -I never have.
Do you perform peer evaluations prior to the employee’s performance appraisal interview? If so, how do you utilize this? -I will gather information from other employees on how the target employee is performing

-I will have the target employee work on stuff with other employees afterwards

Do you involve any other team members in an employee’s performance appraisal interview? -No.
What steps do you take to help an employee who is performing below average? -take employee aside, explain the complaints or problems, be very specific.

-explain clearly and directly what happens if not corrected

-here’s how you correct it. Examples of what to do

-follow up with it to see if the problem is doing better

Have you ever had an employee take your constructive criticism personal? -they always do.

-I have to be direct. I’m generally nice and have a good relationship with employees, so that helps them know I’m not trying to be ma jerk. but I have to be direct

-To make it less difficult, I often try to tie it to making more money… If you want to get a raise, this is where you need to improve.

Can you tell me of an example of a time when a performance review with a certain employee improved their work ethic? -I talked to an employee about many complaints that were given against her by clients. We talked about how to improve and work better with clients. I told her if it can’t improve I would have to fire her because customer satisfaction is #1. Since then, she has improved greatly and I don’t hear complaints anymore.
How do your performance reviews differ between newly hired employees and those that have been working with you for a few years? -In tone. With newly hired I am more blunt. I’m less concerned about our relationship. And I have to establish that I’m the boss.

-once I’ve invested money and time into someone, I become more concerned about how they feel and about our relationship. 

What is one of your biggest concerns you have seen when giving a performance review? -The worry that if they don’t improve I will have to enforce discipline. I hate disciplining 
What kind of follow-up do you do in between evaluations? -we have staff meetings where we review different issues that have been discussed in performance interviews

-I watch employees and if things need to be reviewed again I’ll review it again

-I’ll thank employees regularly and we celebrate all the time (gift certificates, out to lunch, cash bonuses) to reward good behaviors and performance.

Outcomes: I learned a lot from interviewing Doug. Because he works at a small company and he works closely with each of his employees, his way of doing performance appraisals was much different than what I have seen at bigger organizations. He said that he usually knows pretty well how his employees are doing because he works so closely with each of them. Because of this, he frequently rewards their good performance and usually uses performance interviews only when there is a problem that needs to be addressed. I thought it was interesting that he doesn’t formally use employee peer evaluations, but he does ask employees about how other employees are performing in different areas. He also uses employees to teach each other and help each other improve. For example, if an employee is struggling with communicating clearly over the phone with clients, then he will assign another employee who is good at that to work with and teach the struggling employee. I think this could help the staff feel like a team and like they are all working together and teaching one another. One thing I learned from Doug is that you have to be very clear on expectations and consequences. You really can’t beat around the bush if you want to see change. However, I also learned that when you do this, most people take it personally and struggle with hearing what they are doing wrong and need to improve upon. Doug said that from his experience, every single time he has had to give correct or even give constructive criticism to an employee, they have taken it personal. What I learned though, is that if you build a strong positive relationship with your employees, then they take the correction better. Doug says that he has a good relationship with him employees, they know that he is nice, and they know he looks out for their best interest, so when he corrects them, it is still hard to hear, but it doesn’t damage their relationship. I also learned that it is important to give positive reviews to your employees as well. You need to let them know that you notice their efforts and reward them for trying and for doing a job well done. Lastly, I learned that it is just as hard for the boss who is reviewing an employees performance as it is for the employee being reviewed. Most people do not like contention, and bosses typically do not like to have to correct and criticize an employee.

Summary: Interviewing Doug was eye-opening for me. It was interesting to hear, from the perspective of the boss, how much he dislikes having to correct employees in performance appraisal interviews. Talking to him gave me a view into what is is like for the interviewer. It was good to think about the importance of building good relationships with employees so that correction and appraisals are easier to do and so that employees are more willing to listen and make an effort to improve. Overall, I think this was a good experience for me and will be valuable in my future nursing career.

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