The once secret Synod Office season
By Ana Watts
In addition to Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter and Pentecost, the Synod Office calendar has yet another season marked on its calendar — Performance Review. Intended to be as brief and introspective as Advent, it succeeds in the introspection department, but the time required on task often stretches into Epiphany. It is no mean feat to get busy people in the same place at the same time in order to have a private and meaningful conversation.
“Staff performance reviews enable us to recognize and value what staff members accomplish and the impact their work has on the work of the diocese,” says Archdeacon Geoffrey Hall, executive archdeacon and assistant to the bishop. “A structured environment enables us to communicate openly about performance and expectations.”
All synod staff members, including the bishop, have annual reviews. Archdeacon Hall participates one way or another in all of them (including this author’s) because his job description includes responsibility for office supervision.
Phyllis Cathcart, the bishop’s secretary, is interviewed by both Archdeacon Hall and Archbishop Claude Miller. Maureen Vail, the administrative officer, is interviewed by Archdeacon Hall and diocesan treasurer Canon Fred Scott (see the photo above).
Archbishop Miller takes a special interest too in the review of Youth Action Director and Canon for Youth George Porter, as conducted by Archdeacon Hall, because of the diocese’s commitment to youth ministry and the important part Dr. Porter plays in confirmations throughout the diocese. The same can be said for the ministry of the Director of Christian Education.
The diocesan executive – Archbishop Miller, Archdeacon Hall and Canon Scott – collaborate on their reviews.
The earlier parts of a diocesan performance review take advantage of technology and can happen anywhere at any time. A three-part Performance Review Worksheet is sent electronically to staff members who fill out Section A — a self-evaluation form that begins with an appraisal of the position job description. The staff members compare their job description components with the actual tasks they perform in the workplace and assesses the results. Section A goes on to ask staff members to propose any necessary changes to the job description; assess personal gifts, training and abilities in relation to the needs of the bishop and synod; request useful training/educational courses.
There are also prompts to assess and demonstrate recent accomplishments; identify unsuccessful efforts and ways to improve; enunciate and plan long-range goals; and finally, to take stock of contributions to the team effort necessary to work collaboratively toward the mission of the diocese.
The staff members e-mail their documents to the supervisor who fills out Section B of each one, addressing the subjects and responses of Section A as completed by the staff members.
The supervisor then e-mails the complete assessment documents to the staff members for review. Then formal meetings are scheduled so individual staff members and the supervisor have an opportunity to communicate openly about job performance, job description, expectations and compensation issues.
Section C is an opportunity for both parties to offer a summary of the process, set goals for the coming year, and for the staff members to add additional comments. This final section is sometimes completed during the formal interview. Staff members keeps a copy of the document and the originals are kept in their personnel files.