Discussion Thread

  • 1.  The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 08-29-2021 06:37 PM

    Throughout my time working on-campus, it has been rare for me to receive a performance review. Because of how small the staff always was in the offices, there clearly was no need when we would keep e-mailing or observing each other working.

    Something I just realized is, getting thorough, detailed feedback in a performance review is often a key to ascending in positions through a company. Many (especially women in the workforce) are receiving feedback that is too vague or imprecise for such progress.

    What is your experience with vague feedback in a performance review?

    Alexander Granato A.M.ASCE
    Bexley OH
    [email protected]

  • 2.  RE: The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 08-30-2021 08:30 AM
    This is a great question and has prompted the following observations.

    1. A performance review is a lagging indicator.
    2. In an ideal world, performance is directly linked to delivering results and delivering on promises.
    3. Progression generally requires looking ahead to the next career rung and starting to emulate the behaviors and expectations of the higher rung.
    4. Annual feedback, especially of a negative nature or something to start or do more of, is too late. Ideally, you want regular and ongoing feedback from your supervisor.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 3.  RE: The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 08-31-2021 12:58 PM
    Most companies these days will have a formal review procedure in place, but as Mitchell said this is often lagging as it's set up to be an annual review, so it's important to reflect on how often you personally want feedback and convey that to your supervisor. Pushing for more detailed or just more feedback can be uncomfortable but its often both important and necessary.

    Over the past couple years of my career I've adapted two methods that have been helpful to me in terms of feedback.
    1. At the end of the phase of a project I'll set up a quick and easy google forms to request feedback from the people I worked with on the project. I'll send it to anyone I had significant interaction with on the project - PMs, senior engineers, junior engineers, and engineers from different disciplines. I'll give the option for it to be anonymous and ask "What's something I did that was helpful/made your job easier" and "What's something I could start or stop doing that would make your job easier". Those questions are from the book Radical Candor and I've found them to be a better way to frame the question than "What did I do well/poorly?"
    2. When given feedback on my annual appraisal or other applications/work I've tried to actively push for tangible tasks that I could do better if it wasn't provided. This is sometimes an uncomfortable conversation but I've found it to be very useful once you get to core of any feedback. A key here I've had to remember is that I'm not fishing for praise and not to take feedback personally when delivered well. The ultimate goal is to get an action item to work on during the next review period so you have a check in point for yourself. 

    Overall, feedback can be challenging, both getting people to take the time to give it to you and sometimes getting quality feedback. Remember that a lot of people aren't trained in giving feedback in our industry so it's a learning experience for most from that end as well and they may or may not have been given resources when they were made a supervisor. One overarching piece that makes feedback easier to give and receive is developing a trusting relationship with the person giving it. That can be purely work based, but having a respectful and trusting relationship with your supervisor tends to make these conversations more productive.

    Taygra Longstaff
    Ipswich MA
    [email protected]

  • 4.  RE: The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 09-02-2021 09:05 AM

    To add to the conservation: A leader in one of my former organizations use to say "feedback is a gift". This was usually targeted at the receiver, to soften a possibly difficult message.  Feedback is also a git that leaders can deliver as a means of developing staff and bringing out the best in individuals and teams. Being able to give feedback in a specific, measured, and actionable manner is a hallmark of great leaders in my view.

    Mitch Winkler P.E., M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 5.  RE: The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 10-01-2021 05:30 PM
    Each and all of the comments above work.
    I would suggest including this one:

    A 360-degree confidential performance review of all C-suite and Sr. managers by 100% of the
    employees.  IMO, 99% of the statements for employees to rate their own experiences with any or all of
    the survey group would address the observable behaviors of the survey group when addressing others.

    Provoke the org's leaders and top managers to  begin saying things out loud, as fit, like
    "I was wrong, let's start this again" and "What and how may I change to support the success of our people?"

    Stay Healthy!

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 6.  RE: The Impact of Performance Reviews

    Posted 10-20-2021 01:01 PM
    Hi @Alexander Granato,

    This is a really interesting topic! We will be exploring this topic more during our virtual roundtable series (Thursdays @ 3). I hope you can join @Taygra Longstaff, @Kyle Haas, and @Katherine Colburn when we discuss this more on Thursday, October 21 at 3pm ET! I hope you can join us!

    Register here.​​​​​​

    Tirza Austin
    Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191