Looking ahead: What to expect during this year’s evaluations
CASTLE ROCK - With the school year well underway and many of us finally settling into our daily routines, it is the perfect time to reflect upon the work we do and to set goals both as teams and individuals of what we hope to achieve in the year ahead.
In education, fall is the natural time to take part in goal setting. As students return to classes, our schools and departments are assessing the work to be done and what we hope to achieve with our students, as a team and, of course, individually.
Douglas County School District Human Resources Director Katie Shortsleeve says it is important we collectively pause throughout the year for this important reflection.
“Time flies. If we don’t specifically set aside a time and a due date, chances are formal goals would never get set,” Shortsleeve said.
Together we must consider where we want to go, where we are, and how we can get to our goals. That is why the District has formally defined benchmarks in the annual evaluation process for goal setting, mid-year evaluation and year-end evaluation.
As part of the evaluation process all DCSD employees are expected to take part in Goal Setting by October. Primarily, this is an opportunity for staff members to work with their managers to outline how they hope to grow in the year ahead and beyond.
“Is your goal based in your current job and something that you want to get better at and excel, or an additional responsibility that still fits within your job that you want to take on? Or is this something that you want to prepare for your future job?” Shortsleeve asks.
The goals should reflect the needs and desires of each employee, while still aligning to the District’s mission.
“At the end of the day, we are all here to do what is best for kids,” Shortsleeve explained.
Goal Setting can outline training, support needed
During this process it is important for employees and managers to not only outline goals, but also professional development or support that may be needed in order to accomplish this effort.
Often cross training, for instance, can be a meaningful way that employees can reach personal goals and support district needs.
“That is a great way to expand on a current role. Helping to cover when there are vacancies,” Shortsleeve said. “It helps to cover gaps. No one wants to come back from vacation and come back to a huge pile of work that has built up in his or her absence. If someone wins the lottery and disappears tomorrow, would we have continuity of our practices and our operations?” Shortsleeve asked.
Professional development is a worthwhile investment for both the employee and their school or department, but also must be balanced with the daily tasks required.
Continuous improvement shouldn’t wait
Goal setting may also be a time to better define roles or to accept new responsibilities, but Shortsleeve says employees should not wait for goal setting or an evaluation to bring up ideas on how to improve the work of their school or department.
“It every employee’s job, everyday to say, ‘is there a better way for me to do this better, faster, smarter, stronger?’ That shouldn’t wait for goal setting,” Shortsleeve said.
She also says that department and personal goals often change over the course of a year.
“People should always feel okay to create, integrate, implmenet, evaluate and refine their goals,” Shortsleeve said. “Usually with my team, we’ll monitor goals once a month in our weekly meetings—on an individual level. I’ll say, ‘does the goal still make sense? Are we making any progress?’”
Identifying Strengths & Places to Grow
Part of the evaluation process is for employees to work with their managers to outline areas in which they perform well, as well as places they may need improvement.
“We want to develop strengths at the same time we are working on weaknesses,” Shortsleeve explained. “You can do both of those things in a very motivating and encouraging way.”
Human Resources Director Debbie McGee says it is also crucial that employees know where they stand throughout the entire year, not just when it comes to the formal evaluations.
“There should be no surprises on that evaluation. That employee should be informed of the things they’re doing well and areas in which they can improve,” McGee said.
The goal of the entire experience should be to motivate and encourage each employee to reach their goals, in order to propel both the individual and the organization forward.
Year Ahead: What to Expect
Every employee in the Douglas County School District can expect the following benchmarks during this year’s evaluation process. The hope is that beyond these formal events, managers and employees are meeting routinely to discuss expectation and performance.
Opportunity to set personal and team goals for the year and beyond.
November-February (depending on employee classification)
Opportunity to examine how an employee is tracking and to provide corrective feedback, so that they may reach goals by the end of the year.
This is an appraisal of the entire year, not just a snapshot. The goal is to determine if the employee made sustained, measured and tracked progress over the course of the year.
Each evaluator’s supervisor reviews all evaluations. Human Resources then examines all of the data to determine if there are any outliers (either low or high evaluations). The goal is to determine whether there are practices to emulate or an evaluation issue the District must help address.
Separately from the evaluation process, Human Resources determines the best way to distribute any money that has been designated for compensation in the budget process. DCSD differentiates pay increases so the largest increases are given to our best performers.