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I entered a new positon as a manager and had several evals due (3) within the first two months. I am completely new to the organization and have no prior relationship with the indivuials I am evaluating. There are no notes from the prior manager nor previous evals to refer back to for 2 of the employees. Is thier anyway to fairly evaluate these indiviuals. I feel that all I can give them is a "generic eval".

Mark's picture

Don't you dare.

1. Go find their previous manager. Get on his/her calendar for 30-60 minutes per employee and ask a series of questions that will help you assess performance.

2. I would not ask the previous manager to write the review. If they're not responsible, they may "say" they will, but you're left holding the bag.

3. Do not be late. This a venial sin of management.

4. Follow our guidance regarding reviews. Listen to all the casts, and ask for the employees to get back to you quickly. Take THEIR input to the old boss, and develop questions about it to deepen your knowledge about what they said.

5. Get previous reviews from previous manager/HR. AND GET the reviews for everyone else on the team - relativity is important as well.

6. Offer to review them again informally in 6 months.

7. Let HR know how stupid this is. Because it is STUPID.

8. Some questions to help you get started:

a. What overall ranking would you give this person? What specific instances come to mind when you think of supporting that statement?

b. Please rank order the team overall, including these two, and tell me your rationale.

c. Name 2 strengths for each person. Would you please share an example of each?

d. Name 2 areas that need attention for each. Cite examples.

e. If there are numerical rankings, ask for the previous manager to supply the numbers.

f. What do you recommend for developmental goals for the coming year?

g. What salary recommendations do you have? (if this is a factor in your reviews).

(FYI - This is the topic of an upcoming cast)

Mark

mydesygn's picture

What if the manager no longer works within the organization? Would it be appropriate to rely more heavily on self evaluation and solicit peer reviews?

Mark's picture

Well, first off, I'm tempted to say, you're welcome for nothing, since it appears you're saying thanks for nothing. ;-)

Nevertheless, it's a great question.

1. Why not ask anyway? HR probably knows where they are. Long shot, but it costs a couple of emails and a phone call, maybe. This answer assumes you mean he has left the corporation, versus just the division or area. If it IS the div/area, then I would work very hard to make contact.

2. I don't recommend peer reviews AT ALL. This is akin to a back pocket 360, and is VERY dangerous. I have actually been hired twice to undo 360 efforts that were compromised on confidentiality, and it was ugly.

3. Good point to rely more - but just slightly - on self evals. You need to be ready to discount self comments when data contradict, but it is data, after a fashion.

[b]The key with self eval is to NOT do what most think of when they hear the phrase - let employees write the review. [/b]

4. Go to your boss for an eval of the team versus its responsibilities in the previous year, with his/her understanding that it is necessary to fairly evaluate these team members. (yes, the boss may balk, but it sure will teach you about him/her. Worth the ask. This will help with more data.

5. Engage your team members in the process. Teach them the corporate process and forms, and then teach them YOUR process (I assume it's ours, to some degree). Ask them to prepare a briefing/presentation for you on their performance, including emails and documents, as well as input from others.

6. Ask HR for approval to review their emails. It's a treasure trove, it's technically yours, and it may be terribly helpful.*

I suspect I'll be getting hate mail about #6, but I can make the case. I'm a good boss, and I'd rather go through mails with a compassionate eye than give a generic review.

Hopefully this helps!

Mark
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robroyston's picture

I am in a similar situation as [b]mydesygn[/b], only I have managed the people in my team since February. My biggest concern is that most of your advice (including the email template) take a "based on my past experience" tone.

My team knows I am brand new to management and this is my first time conducting PAs. I have made some adjustments to the template to take more of a "based on what I've heard" tone. Do you see anything wrong with this?

I am very eager to conduct these because I see it as a great learning experience for me and a continued chance to help my team improve. Any other thoughts or advice?

Thanks again for the guidance and help.

PierG's picture

I'm always in trouble when I have to talk with old bosses: they usually talks about how they perceive his direct is more then about behaviours.

That's why I sometimes prefer to start 'from scratch'.

PierG

MattJBeckwith's picture

PierG, I totally agree. I have found that, for the most part, reviews can tell me as much about the person writing them as the people they are written about. Although I always read past reviews on people just joining my team (internal of course), if I don't know the manager that wrote the evaluation than the reviews don't have a lot of value. I like Mark's idea of going through e-mail.

lou's picture

The two biggest points I see from Mark are - gather as much information about what performance was like prior to your arrival, and then push for reviews again in 6 months. Sounds like a good combination there.

Mark's picture

I don't know what you mean by "past experience", but if you've supervised them since February, you have all you need. Don't rely very much on their previous boss's input, and CERTAINLY don't say, "this is what I heard." Unless it comes from their former boss, and you totally belive it, don't say it. If it comes from their former boss, deliver it as if you saw it.

Mark