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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 3, 2000. All rights reserved.
The dreaded performance appraisal serves many purposes,
not the least of which is avoiding wrongful termination suits, says
John Sarno, a former corporate lawyer and president of the Employers
Association of New Jersey. "Employment litigation is proliferating
and there are a lot of lawsuits being filed that lack merit, what
could be generally described as wrongful termination suits," he
says. "One of the best ways to justify or explain an employment
decision is by having performance documented. Big companies could
grind down the plaintiff over time, but small companies can ill-afford
litigation, and the best way to prevent it is to have an honest performance
Sarno speaks on "The Art and Science of Performance Appraisal"
at the association meeting on Tuesday, May 9, at 9 a.m. the Labor
Building in Trenton. Call 609-984-3518. Cost: $10. www.eanj.org
There should be no surprises when you sit down to conduct a employee
performance evaluation, says Sarno, who has a BA in psychology from
Ramapo (Class of 1977) and a law degree from Seton Hall. "It’s
a dreaded tasks for managers and supervisors, because it’s sort of
like sitting in judgment of other people," he says, "and often
times it’s artificial — it’s one time out of the year. It should
be a natural extension of the communication that’s going on throughout
The delicate art of performance appraisal begins here:
criteria, so you can see if someone is succeeding or not. "The
manager or supervisor has to have a very good understanding of what
the person’s job is and whether they’ve been meeting the expectations,"
says Sarno. "The goal is to have the manager and the person who’s
being supervised to come up with a goal that they both agree to."
evaluations. The nuances might include where and how you talk to people,
says Sarno, "whether or not you sit across from a desk, or sit
side-by-side — that’s my own preference, by the way. The desk
causes a physical barrier, but everybody has to pick their own style.
A lot of people need the symbolic trappings of authority. That’s fine
as long as you’re aware that will influence what’s going on. There’s
some people that don’t even meet with employees — they simply
ask that they fill out a form."
Again, there should be no surprises.
"If you’re counseling a poor performer, and you know there might
be a discharge decision in the future, then you want to document every
important conversation," he says. "Other than that, though,
you don’t need to be documenting it."
"For some small professional teams where people are more or less
professional peers, you need a means of feedback and continual evaluation
of the team, but you don’t necessarily need a performance evaluation,"
he says. "What’s being evaluated is team and individual responsibility
— in that environment there is a totally different approach."
consensus is that the performance evaluation should be about the person’s
performance and a separate meeting should be held over pay," says
appraisal, adds Sarno. "A good evaluator will ask the employee’s
view first," he says. "Most employees will be honest, and
often times, employee has a real good idea has a comment or helpful
to the employer. Either it’s a job reassignment or a way to restructure
the work. It might become apparent that the work is just over their
head. That’s not their fault; it’s the employer not having the type
of work aligned with that employee."
— Melinda Sherwood
Securing a place for the under-privileged to live has
been the primary aim of Habitat for Humanity. Now Habitat would like
to help the underprivileged secure a place in the new economy. Habitat
is sponsoring a meeting entitled "E-Commerce: The Impact on Your
Company and Your Community" on Thursday, May 4, at 7:45 a.m. at
the Merrill Lynch Executive Training Center in Plainsboro. Call 609-393-8009.
Habitat’s Trenton area executive director, David Gibbons, describes
the program as an effort to bring together corporate sponsors of Habitat
to discuss ways in which E-commerce can be used to build healthy,
dynamic communities. "We are wondering what things that interest
the corporate community would also be of concern to Habitat partner
families," says Gibbons. "We want to insure that low income
families can participate in this new economy."
Speakers include Donn Rappaport of American List Counsel, Rick
Butare, chief architect of technology at Dow Jones, Diane Parks
vice president of contributions and community affairs at Janssen Pharmaceutica,
and Randal Langdon, first vice president of Merrill Lynch/Digital
Business Development. The panel will be moderated by Richard Bilotti,
publisher of the Times of Trenton.
Habitat for Humanity has built 40 houses in Trenton, and has just
committed to an initiative to eliminate all sub-standard housing in
the East Trenton area within 10 years. There are six new houses under
construction in East Trenton. Volunteers are still need, particularly
people with skills in sheetrock installation, trimwork, roofing, or
siding. Corporate sponsors do everything from underwriting the full
cost of a house at $60,000, to providing in-kind services, donating
materials, providing teams of volunteers, and making financial contributions
of a more modest nature. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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