John Lane: Regular Check-Ins Are Important to Success

By Lianne Tucker, ESO Communications Intern

Over his 16 years at UHD, John Lane has been a leader to staff members with specialized skills who support and train UHD faculty and staff on different systems and software applications.

As Director of UHD’s Technology Learning Service, he has eight direct reports for whom he is responsible for their annual reviews.

His team of 17 staff provide video recording and editing for faculty and staff as well as provide support for instructional classrooms and AV equipment for events across campus. They instruct faculty on the use of the Learning Management System and provide support for 20 different software applications.

What are some things you evaluate in yearly reviews?

I follow the stated competencies listed on the ESO webpage because I believe anything beyond that is not fair to my employees.

How often do you check in with your employees during the year and why?

At least weekly. I walk around and get a pulse check on my staff to determine their work attitudes. I listen to them about their families and other things going on in their lives and firmly believe that people won’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.

Have you had an instance where an employee got upset during a review?

I’ve never had an employee get visibly upset, but I have had disagreements about the scores. A staff member will have a different self-rating compared to my score, which is to be expected. That said reviews should not be a surprise if you communicate and coach throughout the year.

How do you balance talking about negative and positive items during the review?

It’s important employees leave the review session with a positive experience. Any performance negatives should’ve already been addressed in prior 1-on-1 sessions throughout the year. If anything needs to be addressed during the performance review, it should be just a summary of improvement action items along with updates. The rest of the evaluation process should focus on positive outcomes, goals and new projects.

What is the secret to a successful performance review?

I don’t really take part in quarterly or six-month performance reviews. I feel my check-ins throughout the year provide ample opportunity to speak with my staff about performance updates on projects and areas of improvement.

However, I may send out a general email reminding them of their goals. My employees should know what is expected of them since it is detailed in their previous year’s performance review.

My staff is expected to take their time and be diligent when completing their self-evaluations prior to our employee/manager meeting. I will send them back for edits if I feel they didn’t put enough effort into this important task.

The performance review should be a celebration of their work and accomplishments. It should recognize and review goals, improvement strategies and project plans.

What advice would you share with other managers on how to deal with the challenges of employee reviews?

I think it’s important to start as soon as you can so it doesn’t become overwhelming. A great starting point is taking a look at last year’s review. I‘ve found that only through time management will I be able to successfully complete this process along with my other duties.

Do you dread employee reviews? How do you overcome that?

No. If everything was documented inside My TalentSpace by my employees regarding their accomplishments and challenges and if they are diligent and honest with their self-evaluations, this is not a difficult experience. It is just a review of facts and accomplishments; a celebration of their work what they want to accomplish the next year.

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