When I used to give performance evaluations to personnel
(professional and support staff) in my law firm,
I made a conscious effort to be nice about it
and to try to make everyone feel good n appreciated.
When I get performance appraisals, I now make a conscious effort to be nice about how I receive those appraisals, ever since the head of my department did my first one. We weren't friends yet - we had just met and he had to observe me do a lesson and give me an appraisal.
Everything was good, except one little bit of constructive criticism he had for me and I could see that he didn't want to say it, so I started getting really nervous thinking, 'What did I do that was SO bad that he doesn't even want to tell me?' so I just said, 'I can see you have something you want to tell me about how I can improve - I'd like to hear it- so please don't feel bad about telling me what you think.'
So he said, 'Your manner with the students is a little informal for my taste. Nothing inappropriate or anything- the classroom environment is really nice - it feels like a team or a family , but I just feel that it might lead to you having difficulties in terms of managing negative behaviors in the classroom if there's not a very clear line drawn from the beginning.'
I knew exactly what he was talking about - I'd been told that many times before and I told him that I understood what he was saying and thanked him for his input.
I thought he was going to keel over in his chair and faint from shock. And then he said something that was probably inappropriate for him to say to me as it involved another colleague. He said, 'Thank God it didn't happen again - last week I did an appraisal on so and so and I said all good things but I had one little bit of constructive criticism - she hadn't written her learning goal for the session on the board at the beginning of the class and I reminded her of this and she burst out crying and said that indeed she had. And I KNEW she hadn't. He said, 'It was surreal! Every appraisal since then, if I have any small word of criticism, I feel that I better get ready for hysterics.'
He and I got to be really good friends, to the point he could no longer be the one to appraise me (as it wouldn't have been objective) and we team-taught and it was good, because we did have very different styles - and he could be the rule enforcer- I used to be sitting at the back grading papers or something and if a kid did something wrong - I'd nearly jump out of my seat because he'd surprise me by his vehement and loud directives to stop.
My new performance appraiser is alright - I can be honest with her. The first time she watched me she said I didn't use my peer tutor enough. So the next time I used him a lot and she said I used him too much. I just looked at her and smiled and said, 'Jane - can you come do a lesson and show me exactly how much to use my peer tutor, because according to you I either use him too little or too much- I think it would be helpful for me to see what the expectations are before the next appraisal.'
She smiled back and agreed to help me out with it.