I work for a state university. One of the requirements for evaluating our employees is that we establish “development” competencies for each employees. We must establish at least two for every employee. The state considers that every employee can improve their performance all the time.
Here is my problem. My one employee is our 63-year-old receptionist who has been with us for over 10 years. Her job duties are to meet and greet visitors, enter routine requisitions and take care of our photocopier and other machinery.
She is incredibly good at what she does. She has been receiving our top rating – Exceeds Expectations – for the last 8 years at least. She is already exemplary in performance of her duties, and is actually the top performer in the routine requisitions – I can’t remember the last time I had to make a correction on her work. She can’t get better at taking care of the machinery because she already has the magic touch.
And, you’ve never seen anyone who is so good at greeting and serving our customers and making them feel special.
So I need to find two areas that she can “develop.” One of the suggestions from the state is to have the employee read a book, so I figure I can give her a book every year. So question one:
Do you or your readers have any business books you can recommend for a basic frontline employee? I’m thinking book one can be “Who moved my cheese” but what else is out there for non-management employees?
Question two: What in the heck can I use for the second development activity that won’t insult her?
I’m totally going to ignore your first question, as I’m not sure what book to recommend. Hopefully my readers will have some good suggestions.
But, as for question two, there is a very simple solution to this problem: Ask her.
See, all solved! Sit down with her and say how fabulous she is and how you can’t think of areas she needs to improve in, and ask what type of development activity she is interested in.
Keep in mind development doesn’t just mean “doing the same job better.” It also means that you are helping to prepare the person for her next job. Don’t get caught in the trap of “she’s a 63 year old lady. She doesn’t want a different job ever.” She may not, but she might. You don’t want to trap her where she is. You’d never expect a 23 year old to stay in that particular job forever.
Even if she wants to stay in the same job forever, there are probably areas she feels like she could do better in. For instance, if I was a receptionist at a university, I’d jump at the chance to take a course in just about anything. If you are an academic department, she may want to take a course in that subject matter so she can relate better to what is going on. If you’re an administrative department, she may want to take an introductory class in finance, or whatever it is you do.
She may say she wants to sit in on staff meetings. She may say she wants to learn some new skill. She may say she wants to take on new responsibilities. Or she may laugh and say, “there’s nothing I want to develop,” in which case her job is to develop something to develop.
And I bet your department is the envy of the entire university. A good receptionist is hard to find. But, don’t let her fabulous performance stand in the way of her development.