County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said he is tired of department managers giving bogus employee performance evaluations and has asked the county administrator to push for more “honest” reports.
For whatever reason, some managers are not taking the time to fully scrutinize each employee under their jurisdiction and he believes they may be wary of writing unflattering comments or hurting feelings.
That has come back to haunt the county when that same employee gets in trouble and faces termination or layoff and there is no previous performance evaluation indicating there were any problems on the job.
It often makes the manager and the county look foolish, Nicholson said.
More honest evaluations will also help employees correct deficiencies and become better workers, Nicholson said.
“We need to do honest evaluations of all the employees,” Nicholson said. “We can’t just keep giving everybody fives,” referring to the grading schedule.
Without naming names, Nicholson said there are employees who are getting high performance grades and are not doing their jobs.
Nicholson stressed that not all supervisors and managers are guilty of this but there are enough of them that he wanted Administrator Len Sossamon to investigate.
“This won’t happen overnight,” Nicholson said.
If employees are not doing their jobs, there needs to be a report filed with the county and a determination made on whether they may be a better fit in another job, he said.
County Commissioner Wayne Dukes agrees there needs to be better monitoring of evaluations and a better effort to fairly rate each employee for the benefit of both management and worker.
Dukes said it is not fair to give only average grades to employees who deserve better. If all managers play it safe and give all threes to indicate the employee is performing as required, that is not fair to those who are doing exemplary work and deserve higher, possibly a five, Dukes said.
Similarly, if underperforming employees are all rated high, the county doesn’t have a leg to stand on if it comes to terminating them because there is no previous documentation to indicate problems.
Dukes said he knows from his business background that many managers do not have the time to pore over each employee performance evaluation and tend to take the easy route and simply dash off a report and check off an arbitrary number.
He hopes the addition of four new assistant administrators will more closely monitor the employees under them and press for more accurate evaluations.
“It takes constant oversight, so maybe these deputy administrators can get that done,” he said.
Teamsters Union steward Dan Oliver said the county has a larger problem than grading employees on their annual evaluations.
“I hear from people who say they haven’t had one for four, five or six years,” Oliver said.
When workers haven’t had a raise for six years, the evaluations become superfluous, he said, because nobody is in line for any salary increases.
Hernando County has a policy stating that performance evaluations and annual appraisals are to be done “in a timely, fair and equitable manner.”
“Each year, an annual performance evaluation will be completed on each employee,” the policy states. “Upon completion of that evaluation, a compensation adjustment based on the score of that evaluation, as well as approved merit or cost-of-living increases, may be recommended by the reviewing manager or supervisor.”
Administrative Services Director Cheryl Marsden said in an email the policy needs updating and is on Human resources’ to-do list.
“The policy is outdated as we have not been giving merit raises for a long time, plus we do 6-month and 1-year evaluations,” she said.