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Why bother?

Job descriptions are very helpful to make sure that the manager and the employee agree on the responsibilities.  It helps to avoid the complaint that "I didn't know that was part of MY job ..."


What's the best way to create them?

Have the staff member start by creating their own.  They know best what they do.  Edit carefully to make sure the level of responsibility is appropriate.


How can they be kept up-to-date?

That can be a real problem - that's why I like to include it as part of the performance appraisal.




Should performance appraisals be done on the anniversary of employment, or all at once?

I recommend that these all be done at the same time - that helps to ensure that they actually get done.


What is the role of the staff member in the review process?

Staff members have a very important role.  First they should know what they accomplished in the year and where they missed their goals.  They should know what they feel they can accomplish in the year ahead and help develop their goals.  They need to figure out what kind of training would help them be more productive and ask for it.  A review should be a dialogue - not a monologue.


How do you tell someone what their weaknesses are?

I've found three effective ways to do this.  One is to ask them beforehand to think about their strengths and weaknesses and see what they feel their weaknesses are.  A second approach is to talk about all their strengths before discussing their weaknesses - that helps them feel valued and that you have been noticing what they do;  then when you discuss their weaknesses (no more than 3!), they will pay attention.  Help them devise a plan to improve.  And third, confess your own weaknesses - everyone has them and if you are forthright, they will appreciate your honesty.



How often should department meetings be held?

Teams should meet every week or every other week.  Folks need to be sure they are in synch with each other and that they know about changing priorities.


What should be on the agenda?

Progress towards goals should be the primary topic.  Data about productivity needs to be collected and discussed; obstacles need to be identified.  Action items should be assigned, notes should be distributed so everyone knows what to do, and the following meeting must include progress on those items.


How long should a typical meeting last?

Ideally the meeting would last about 30 minutes - a fast-paced meeting keeps everyone engaged and alert and thinking.  However, that isn't always possible, but the meeting should not extend more than an hour. 


Sometimes sexual harassment issues are subtle and perceptions are based on interpretations.  If you object to the way someone is treating you, let them know.  If it stops the behavior, all the better.  If it doesn't stop, you have a much better chance of prevailing when you bring in someone else to help you.  If you are being accused of something you feel is untrue, similarly let your accuser know that your actions/comments were misperceived, apologize, and steer very clear of ever saying or doing what you were being accused of. 

Whether you feel you are being harassed, or whether you feel you are being accused as a harasser, get yourself to your HR office right away.  They will help you decide what the next steps are.  If it is already at a serious stage, they will advise you to make a formal complaint.  If it is just an uneasy feeling you are getting, they will probably advise you to let the other person know of your concerns.  This is the easiest way to avoid a serious problem.

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