The town of Smyrna's Personnel Committee is in the process of updating the employee evaluations.

THE ISSUE At the June 4 Smyrna Town Council meeting, Councilman Jeff Flairty brought up the topic of employee evaluations of town managers and employees.

It had come to Flairty’s attention that there is a lack of performance reviews of senior staff, and he felt it was important evaluations be done on town employees.

“It’s important that there is information passed between an employee and a manager regarding their performance,” Flairty said. “People require guidance whether it’s negative or positive.”

Flairty suggested the Personnel Committee be responsible for evaluating Police Chief Wil Bordley and Town Manager Dave Hugg on an annual basis; then Bordley and Hugg would be responsible to evaluate the employees they directly supervise.

Councilwoman Valerie White thought the process of improving employee evaluations was started years ago but Hugg informed her the process was done ad-hoc at best.

Councilwoman Joanne Masten, as chair of the Personnel Committee, said the committee would look into at their next meeting.

BACKGROUND Hugg said currently town employees are evaluated sporadically even though there’s a provision in the Personnel Policy stating there must be performance reviews done. Even his contract states the town has to give him an annual evaluation; Hugg hasn’t been evaluated since 2009.

It has been noted by Hugg, and some council members, that part of the problem with the performance review process is the actual evaluation itself.

Hugg said the evaluations are pretty much useless; while some questions pertain to job performance others ask if a person is on time to work and dressed appropriately.

“They don’t measure the value of the employees and the work they do,” Hugg said. “We don’t have a process to punish or reward. It’s a bigger issue than doing an evaluation on an annual basis.”

He cited the evaluations of the police department, which are done regularly, as a good example because chances to advance in the department are tied to the evaluation.

It may be hard to tie compensation to a good evaluation in these hard times, but Hugg said there needs to be a process to measure performance and a mechanism for rewarding.

THE UPDATE Masten updated council at their June 18 meeting; she said the committee had a good discussion but there is still a lot of work to do. No vote was taken but the group agreed every employee should be evaluated at least once a year.

“Most employees really do want to know how they are doing,” Masten said.

As part of the problem is the evaluation itself, the committee is looking at examples of employee evaluations that companies and other municipalities use. Masten said they’ll continue to look at the sample evaluations at their July committee meeting.

WHAT’S NEXT While the Personnel Committee is set to discuss evaluations at their next meeting, Hugg said it will still be a very long process. He said improving evaluations will be part of a bigger process; the town is also working on fixing their outdated job descriptions. The process of creating a new evaluation will need to include taking updated job descriptions into consideration and creating a system for employees to be rewarded, Hugg said.

“I would like to see a whole new evaluation scheme with some useful ways to measure performance,” Hugg said.

Masten agreed stating that you need a position description, classifications and an accountability document before an evaluation can be done.

She said the process of updating the job descriptions and classifications could take three to six months to finish. As for the evaluations, once the committee has an evaluation form they will go to each department manager to fine-tune the evaluation to that specific department. The process of updating job descriptions and the evaluation forms should be done by the end of the year.

“I hope we’ll hope to be able to start the actual evaluation process by the beginning of 2013,” Masten said.

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