F20. Evaluating Members

Now that you’ve learned how to design a good policy, you’ll have to create a system that can track compliance. Evaluating members can be rather tricky, and the success of your system will depend in large part upon its clarity and fairness. That being said, evaluation of some sort is necessary for a successful organization to run. Determining which members are performing well, which members are performing per the norm, and which members are not performing to standard will not only allow you to tailor specific strategies to assist your struggling members, but also will allow you to grow the successes of your strongest members. In the case where you need to ask a member to leave, it will also provide you with the necessary documentation to state your position forcefully. Though it can be, this system need not be public. If you simply create a tracking system for your own internal management uses, that is also acceptable.
Assess Requirements
First, determine the goals of your evaluation system. As alluded above, often the primary goal is to provide a simple tracking system to understand how people are responding to your policies, and so you can identify when members may need support or feedback.
When planning your evaluation system, determine the amount of leeway you want to give your members with regard to event and general body attendance. Think about the penalties for showing up late, missing an event, and other actions that might harm the team. In addition, think about what actions a person might take that would be above and beyond the call of duty. Think about whether you want to build incentives into your evaluation system that would promote such actions or whether there will be ad-hoc rewards for excellent team members.
The way you deliver feedback is also important. Your system should be transparent and should be well understood by your members. If you’re implementing a points system, ensure that an individual’s point total is readily available to him or her. If you’re instituting feedback sessions, ensure that the members know what the feedback is about and why feedback is needed.
You will need to split your system into two parts. First, there will be absolute requirements for membership. Your members need to fulfill these requirements to be considered members in good standing with the team. Second, there will be other requirements. Violations of these requirements will be tracked, and once a certain number of violations have been recorded, memberships may need to be reviewed. The more disruptive to hurtful to the team a person’s actions, the more you should communicate that such behavior is unacceptable.
CS1 (Speech & Debate): I’ve outlined the system I used for Speech & Debate below.
Absolute Requirements
  • Each member is required to participate in two tournaments a semester.
  • Each member must pay $50 dues at the beginning of the year.
Other Requirements
Each member of the team is assigned three points at the beginning of each semester. Any remaining points at the end of the semester do not roll over to the following one.
  • All general body practices and team recruiting events are mandatory.
    • Arriving late docks half a point.
    • Missing a practice or event docks a full point.
  • All tournaments and major initiatives that you signed up for are mandatory.
    • Arriving late docks half a point.
    • Missing a tournament or major initiative docks two points or more depending on severity.
  • Arriving more than 20 minutes late to a meeting or event was the equivalent of an absence and points were docked accordingly.
  • No penalty for missing or being late to social events.
For context, I’ve listed the types of events that were held by the Speech & Debate team and the impact of each event on the organization. This should assist with your understanding of why I assigned penalties the way that I did. You will now be well placed to design your own system based on the relative importance of your events.
  1. General Practices: These were held to train and prepare for tournaments. They also doubled as general body meetings. It was important that people attended these to keep them up to date on what the team was doing as well as give them an opportunity to practice and get feedback from their peers in preparation for competition.
  2. Tournaments: This was the bread and butter of our organization. Competition is where we hone the skills that we practice, and where a majority of the team bonding happened. However, tournaments were extremely time consuming and exhausting. Generally, people could spend a single weekend a month which is why we came up with the minimum of two tournaments a semester. We attended more than two each semester which allowed people to find tournaments that worked with their schedules.
  3. Recruiting Events: These events occur at the beginning of the semester and are necessary to attract new members.
  4. Major Initiatives: These included tournaments we hosted, major public debates, and fund raisers. We included this in our system since they were vital for the functioning and prestige of the team.
  5. Social Events: These were fun gatherings meant to bring people closer together and to have fun, thus creating a friendly family like environment. We wanted to keep these informal, and allow friendships to grow organically. Therefore, we didn’t assign any points or requirements to social events.
NOTE: Regardless of how well designed your system is, it’s inevitable that you’ll be asked to make an exception from time to time. As a leader, you should not be inflexible. There are situations where extraordinary circumstance demands that an exception be made. In these cases, clarity of rules and expectations becomes paramount. If an exception is to be made, make it quiety and without fanfare.
The best result of a great evaluation system is the identification of struggling and excelling members. Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll be much better positioned to provide assistance as needed. If you’ve identified the need to provide feedback to a member, proeeed as follows:
  1. A feedback session should focus on strengths and weaknesses. For both areas, you’ll want to provide specific examples that demonstrate your points. Depending on the nature of the session, you can allocate more or less time to one of these sections.
  2. After you’ve delievered your feedback, you’ll need to establish a plan to support your member. You should both contribute and work towards a path that establishes opportunities to improe and to grow.
  3. Once you’ve agreed on the path forward, agree on how you will track progression on this path. You can then end your session.
NOTE: When you’re evaluating members, keep this point in mind. What was expected of them? Did they perform as expected? If so, great! If not, why didn’t they perform as expected? The first area you need to look at is whether or not you’ve actually communicated what you expect of them. Once you’ve established clear expectations, the next thing you need to investigate is why the lapse in compliance happened. Is there a specific aspect of your expectations that the member finds unacceptable? Is this a one off event based on a heavy work load? Or, is the member simply not performing up to par? Once you’ve answered these questions, you need to forge a path forward. If you’ve lost many members to a specific role, maybe you’re expecting too much from the position. Or perhaps the person needs time and experience to grow into the responsibilities. Think about ways you can provide reasonable support for them to achieve their potential.
Questions to Consider
  1. What should you be expecting out of your general body members vs. your board members?
  2. When a person runs out of points or the equivalent within your system, does their case come up for review or are they immediately removed from the team?
  3. Are you applying the rules fairly to yourself as well?
  4. Are you asking for your own feedback? Are people comfortable providing you with that feedback? If not, why not?


PC: US News


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