Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Love Anonymous Evals

I tend to live by the mantra "put your money where your mouth is." That's one reason that I tend to have the reputation of being willing to say things in meetings that other people are thinking but are unwilling to give their voice to. I actually think that speaking your mind is a good (and healthy) thing, but as you can imagine I have a certain bias since that's the way I am.

Each administrator at my college is evaluated by the masses every two years using an online, anonymous survey instrument. When I say masses, that actually means that the masses are invited to submit the evals, but most choose not to do so. This year it was my turn again. Only about 30 people chose to submit an eval about me. I'm not going to bore you with whether the evals were overall favorable or unfavorable, because that is not my point or even remotely related to my point.

I want to take this opportunity, dear reader, to share with you the negative comments that people were willing to write in the open-ended questions at the end of the survey. For example:

For the question - This administrator could improve upon the following:

  1. Communication with fellow staff
  2. Could improve on communication and planning skills.
  3. Look for opportunities to interact with staff and faculty.
  4. He needs to make use of more of the online faculty--a select few seem to be favored for various tasks, opportunities, committees, etc. He may need to get to know the various faculty a bit better. There seems to be a fair amount of comment from people who think Barry does not like them. I think he does not know them, and doesn't work at that as a priority.
  5. Tendency to find fault with others
  6. Can be (mis?)perceived as arrogant.
  7. Being more patient.
  8. Barry is a bit too impatient with routine tasks and routine pace of some procedures and tends to favor newer, more visible and faster-moving projects over them. This can, at times, make some people worry a little about the fate of the routine tasks.
  9. Willingness to listen.
  10. Attending department meetings so that faculty can communicate directly with administration about curriculum and technology issues before approaching the Dean.
  11. improve communication with their division, have division meetings, meet with departments within their division
  12. He needs to remember what the typical teaching schedule is like, perhaps teaching an online course once in a while to stay in touch with where our students are coming from. He is gone so much it's hard to feel like he really has an idea about our issues.
  13. Take time to listen to us more, he started something, and we were very wary of the intent. The intent seemed genuine, now please continue it. There is a potential for great growth, this is not a complaint, rather lets keep on doing this we fell valuable. One little thing when we e-mail please respond or tell us directly, passing things through the managers it isn't given to everybody and has caused some rough spots and confusion.
  14. Somewhat arrogant to others.
In the final category of Additional Comments:
  1. He is either the dean of online education and then in charge of the hiring and evaluation of online faculty, or he is not-the divided responsibilities between him and the deans is a problem.
  2. Get the impression that Barry often takes advice from others just for show and already has his mind made up as to what he is going to do.
  3. He can be distant at times, is sometimes gracious, and sometimes is almost rude in his abruptness. I am not sure that his people skills are his strongest area, and that really is hard on the staff and faculty he works with, as they are insecure about how he feels about them, and whether he knows and values their contributions and abilities.
Yes, there were positive comments, but I don't really care much about them either. In my experience it seems that people will share positive feedback with you to your face, but negative comments tend to only be served when your back is turned. It's easy to say the nice things, but it takes guts to say the more negative things and then face a possible rebuttal or at least hear what it sounds like to have those words come out of your own mouth.

This is why I find the anonymous evals to be of almost no value whatsoever.

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