What CEOs Can Learn From Teacher Evaluations

Most people are reviewed for their work performance at some point, but these reviews are especially important for teachers. Often, teachers are evaluated with a more critical eye than professionals in other occupations are, because they oversee the education and training of our children. Thus, what they do has a long-lasting, almost indelible, impact. Other companies can use teacher evaluation standards to shore up their own performance reviews for a greater impact in the workplace.

Why Businesses Should Take an Educational Approach to Performance Reviews

Businesses often run solely on hard metrics, such as numbers of customer acquisitions, dollar amounts, or other return on investment data that indicates employee performance. In the education world, teachers are responsible for meeting certain hard data criteria, and they are evaluated on how they engage with students and focus on educational material in the classroom. Principals and school boards may actively sit in on classroom activities to evaluate these types of activities before standardized tests are administered and scores are released.

The world of education also has another approach to performance reviews the business world often neglects to consider. In colleges, and even in some primary and secondary schools, students evaluate their teachers. It’s important for the educational environment that students have teachers they can relate to, respect, and follow throughout the term or the school year.

At the business level, many companies approach the review process only from a top down approach. Executives review management and management review employees. However, a follower is often only as strong as his or her leader, and poor management (from an employee’s perspective) could have more to do with performance than a company thinks it does. Having employees review management on some level makes sense.

Applying Educational Review Components into the Business Review Model

In the workplace, many companies have started to change the way they handle internal affairs and are seeing some amazing benefits. They’re starting to incorporate more flexible device arrangements and to invest in their human capital so they can make the most out of their strategic goals year after year. Adopting a different approach to performance reviews also helps companies to collaborate better interdepartmentally, to retain top talent, and to drive meaningful data-driven results.

Instead of relying on the old system of labels and harsh criticism, use these educational review components to get the most benefit at a department level and across the enterprise:

  1. Use a comprehensive review matrix: Instead of using broad terms to cover the general performance of an individual, invest in a matrix that highlights all aspects of an employee’s performance, from soft skills such as interpersonal relations to hard skills that directly benefit the business’s bottom line.
  1. Encourage continued learning: Businesses today need a culture of learning to remain competitive. Instead of merely focusing on how an employee has performed until now, adopt an education-focused stance and present opportunities for employees to develop skills in the future. Licensing and certification hone employee abilities and allow businesses to advance more quickly with existing talent pools.
  1. Regularly evaluate performance: School boards, other teachers, and principals evaluate teachers throughout the year. Instead of waiting for an annual performance review, incorporate reviews into the culture of the business and use them as benchmarks for encouraging future results. These routine assessments keep managers comfortable with the process and allow employees to understand exactly where they stand in the company.
  1. Use peer assessment to your advantage: Teachers often have to provide assessments of each other to ensure each is living up to the best standards of practice. Principals may not always have the same level of insight as someone who works with students on a daily basis.

In the business world, the same is true of departments. Higher management may not have as much grasp on the daily operations of a department, and inter-department collaboration promotes the overall success of the organization. Make room for constructive peer reviews and evaluations for a well-rounded performance review.

  1. Don’t forget a bottom up approach: For schools, students are the key to creating better education standards. They submit teacher and professor reviews highlighting information, such as how well an instructor challenges students, organizes the class, and encourages students to enhance their skills. In the business world, entry and mid-level employees are the key. Their daily work allows management to successfully direct activities, and their feedback can greatly improve the overall internal atmosphere.

These individuals are in the best place to help executives and higher management understand how effective a manager or supervisor’s leadership skills really are. An anonymous survey may be the best way to collect and use this type of information.

  1. Focus on changeability: Regardless of the level of performance review, adapting to changing standards is a hallmark of successful leadership and employee management. Just as teachers are required to follow the latest standards and technological advancements to encourage participation and information retention in the classroom, managers should also use the latest industry standards and advancements to succeed in the workplace.

Success in any environment hinges on motivation, respect, and constructive feedback. Think about it from an educational standpoint. Would you learn more from a teacher who uses fear and negative criticism to elicit performance or one who encourages you to learn with helpful feedback and the skills you need to perform well? A business works the same way, but with one meaningful difference. Many students do not get to change teachers if they don’t agree with their approaches. Talented employees will move to a different company or department if they feel belittled, unsupported, or left out.

Start with a performance review self-evaluation at your company. Think about how the education system uses feedback to enhance learning, and then apply the same focus to your departments and employees. Both environments have similar goals for success, but the approach to results is often very different. A learning-based approach to performance reviews may open your eyes to a vastly different, more successful, management approach.

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