For this interview, I interviewed Trent Linton who is currently a CRM Administrator for First American Title and has been in last position for just over 2 years. He served in the United States Marine Corps as a Captain for eight years as a Logistics Officer. Following the Marine Corps, he was the Director of Customer Service and Implementation at the School Improvement Network for eight years.
What criteria scale do you use for performance appraisals?
“The Marine Corps used the best scale I have seen. The scale we used was the A through G scale, A being the worst and G being the best. I liked it because it was a thorough evaluation and the Marine Corps has a system which averaged the scores of your evaluator against other evaluators so that it was a fair system for all. This means that if one evaluator usually rated lower and one usually rated higher the pattern of how that evaluator rated Marines was considered. I also like it because it reflected the high standards Marines expect of themselves.”
How long do your evaluations typically last?
“Evaluations should typically last at least one hour. You want to be sure to put thought into preparing for the evaluation and be sure to spend the appropriate or adequate amount of time to conduct a thorough evaluation. “
Do you include peer evaluations? Why or why not?
“In the Marine Corps we did not include peer evaluations, but we would sometimes consult with other leaders on the evaluation for feedback. They trusted the leadership to make the right evaluation and did not require peer evaluation. Plus, evaluating subordinates had different criteria than evaluating peers.”
How frequently do you hold performance appraisals?
“For junior Marines (lieutenants) performance appraisals were conducted twice a year. For senior Marines they were conducted once a year. I, personally, think twice a year is better overall because it is more effective. It forces dialogue around performance. As a leader I better evaluated people twice a year, but a good leader always mentally evaluates people not matter how many evaluations are conducted each year.”
How do your performance appraisals tie into determining salary raises for your employees?
“In the Marine Corps performance appraisals were directly correlated to salary raises and rank advancements. The performance evaluation determined the salary raise and whether or not someone received an advancement in rank.”
Do you provide an opportunity for employees to express concerns about their performance or growth prior to beginning a formal evaluation?
“Yes, I tried to maintain a dialogue. I felt like I needed to talk about those kinds of things. I had an open-door policy so that people knew they could come and talk to me anytime about those issues or their concerns.”
Do you feel like your current protocol for performance appraisals have lead to stronger relationships between you and your employees?
“No. In the Marine Corps it is just one aspect of developing a relationship with employees. I feel like there is more than one way to do that. In fact there are better ways to develop relationships with employees.”
How do you organize your performance appraisals with so many employees?
“Scheduling and prioritizing time to do it. It has to be done so planning and scheduling is vital, especially because salary raises, and rank advancements were directly dependent on evaluations.”
What are some positive outcomes you see from conducting performance appraisals?
“Performance appraisals helps employees see where they are at and where they can improve. You can talk about goals and what they want to accomplish. You can help them get there. You can also talk about their strengths and weaknesses as it directly relates to the job.”
Are there any negative outcomes you see from conducting performance appraisals?
“The biggest negative outcome I have found is If someone gets surprised or gets a bad evaluation that they are surprised by. But if a leader has been doing their job, they would be talking to that employee all along trying to help them improve so that when performance evaluations occur there are no surprises.”
What role does goal setting and accomplishment play when it comes to evaluating your employees’ performance?
“Goal setting definitely plays a part. You want to see if the employee is taking the initiative to accomplish the goal or if they are just saying it to get a good evaluation.”
How do you handle underperforming or problematic employees?
“I have found that you have to meet with them regularly. You have to talk to them and help teach them. You have to help them recognize what they are doing wrong and how they can improve. You have to meet with them regularly and give them constructive feedback.”
From this interview I learned a lot about what it takes to perform to the highest standard, as well as what it takes to conduct a performance evaluation. It was interesting during this interview to realize that most of the experience in performance appraisals that Mr. Linton drew from were from his time in the Marine Corps. He held a huge leadership position at The School Improvement Network, but his strongest experiences came from his time in the military. That showed me how powerfully leadership skills are developed in the military but how you develop skills often times during the hardest times of life. It made me very grateful for his service. Despite that, I was also impressed with how Mr. Linton tried to be a friend to his subordinates and had an open-door policy. This allowed an open channel of communication which I’m sure helped solve and prevent problems before they occurred, rather than having to correct problems after the fact. I also thought it was interesting how he preferred performing more than one appraisal each year. It makes perfect sense that this would inspire increased or improved performance more regularly because employees knew exactly where they stood and what they needed to do to score better next time. Overall, the interview was very helpful for me and I hope that I can implement some of the skills into my practice just as Mr. Linton did.