Case Study: Brenda and Martin
Brenda Batten was an “exceptional employee” of Blackhawk Aironics when the company underwent a change that required more telecommuting and positional autonomy in Brenda’s position. New responsibilities were added to Brenda’s job description without any discussion of the expectations by Brenda’s superiors. In spite of the fact that her previous performance reviews were exemplary, Brenda’s manager, Martin Eaton, was at a loss at how to evaluate Brenda after the changes had been implemented. He was determined to evaluate her even though he was unsure of her current job responsibilities or how her effort contributed to the company as a whole. The evaluation of the newer responsibilities of her job was less than satisfactory, even though she had been given no guidelines.
Brenda and Martin can reach a satisfactory result, but only if both are willing to compromise. Martin must realize that the criteria for evaluating Brenda’s performance are no longer valid and must be updated. The current performance review should only take the technical aspects into account, as these are the only parts of Brenda’s job that he is capable of evaluating. As Brenda has been a good employee in the past, he should trust her to write out a description of the work she does every day. Once Martin has a precise idea of Brenda’s job, he should meet with her to explain his expectations for each part of her job description. This process should be completed for all employees whose job descriptions changed during the reorganization. He should inform Brenda of the date of her next evaluation, so that she can be given a fair opportunity to prepare.
Employees should only be evaluated on a specific job description, not on the extra responsibilities they take on in order to keep the company running smoothly. As the job description changes, employees should be made aware of managers’ expectations long before the next performance evaluation. In the interim, however, employees’ personal competencies should be evaluated first by determining the overall contribution to the whole. Managers should ask if the employee’s work adds to the company’s bottom line, or if it keeps the company from achieving certain goals. The next way to evaluate these personal competencies is to observe how the employee works with others, their time management skills, and client response.
Blackhawk Aironics can avoid this problem in the future by assigning managers to keep up with changes in job descriptions. When the company was reorganized, they should have considered that this would change job descriptions and personal responsibilities. Every performance evaluation should not only be used as an opportunity to check on the employee’s job performance, but to address changes in job responsibilities. Managers should keep in mind that not everything needs to be evaluated. They should only be evaluating those tasks that are essential to the job description.
The most important aspect of a performance evaluation is that it is a tool to improve employee performance, which leads to a more successful company. In order for this to work, employees need to have expectations explained specifically and given to them in writing. They should feel comfortable approaching a manager regarding changes and to determine before the official evaluation if their job performance might require improvement. The performance evaluation should not be used as a way to “catch” employees who are not performing well; these problems should be addressed long before the evaluation. In conclusion, managers and employees should work together to ensure that the job description is accurate and that everyone has a clear idea of the expectations for job performance.
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