Company clarity

So for the first time in two years I missed a scheduled Monday morning blog post! Could this mean I'm losing interest? Of course not! A week's holiday got in the way but now normal service resumes.

"On your marks, get set..."
From the look of my diary that week away is going to prove essential as the first week of UCAS Clearing awaits. Whilst some teams produce the majority of their work in the lead up to Clearing our Admissions team and us are poised on the starting line like Formula 1 drivers. Let the annual Social Media onslaught and PPC bidding battle commence!

In the lead up to this I've also been completing all five of my staff reviews. Personally I feel that this is one of the most important parts of the job as without the properly trained and motivated staff the company is going to suffer. They're also vital for formally recording all the great achievements of the team and also for requesting any external staff development - after all, if you're not continuing to learn at work then you risk not reaching your full career potential.

An important aspect of a good appraisal is that nothing discussed by the manager should be a surprise to the employee. If you surprise a staff member during an appraisal meeting, you have not communicated well in the weeks or months leading up to the meeting.

However, a bad appraisal system can have the opposite effect. I was once part of a company where the staff reviews were geared solely towards the teaching staff and required three 'observations'. The issue here was that not only did it make support staff (professional services) feel they were second best but that it was unrepresentative of how everybody worked. I distinctly remember spending 30mins watching someone use a photocopier so we could add a tick next to it on their form!

When appraisals go bad!
I also agree that the most effective and credible feedback an employee can get is from the work itself. If the manager is not respected, it is usually dismissed as inaccurate. The odds of negative feedback improving performance are much lower than the odds of it disengaging the employee. I myself know from experience that the most satisfaction I can get from work is seeing an idea that I developed flourish and really excite the office about the prospect of it being part of the campaign (and then succeeding!)

For us, working in Digital Marketing makes target setting relatively easy as it can be locked down to actual quantifiable data (e.g. increasing website conversions). These targets should also be put into context as employees need to know how their day-to-day work contributes to the organisation's success. That's why it's important to cascade down the company's vision.

Managers should also praise and reward good performance as it happens, and deal with problems as they arise. If they do this, performance appraisals will be a simple, straightforward task that serve to recap what they and their employees discuss regularly. One thing I'm planning on doing better this year is now following up these reviews, and following employees' development throughout the year.

Another way of monitoring success is of course my old favourite - external awards! One way of sweetening the pill of being back to work at our busiest time was the news that we were again shortlisted for the Anglia, Thames and Chiltern region Pride Awards 2014. This is again for last year's cinema advert in the category of 'Best Integrated Campaign'.

The real challenge here will be deciding whether or not to attend the ceremony on 7th November in Cambridge or my potential IDM graduation on the same day in London! Maybe I could making a flying visit to both!?
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