Hernando County has initiated a new policy requiring all supervisors and managers to do performance evaluations on all employees under their charge.
Those evaluations must be done between Jan. 1 through March 31 each year. Managers who miss the deadline will be given a 30-day grace period to complete them or possibly face negative evaluations themselves.
Furthermore, all managers have been told to give performance evaluations to those employees who have not received one as per county policy.
There are some 150 delinquent employees out of 700 who had not received an evaluation in 2012.
Many of those without evaluations were former Spring Hill Fire Rescue employees who were not subject to the county’s annual policy.
County Commissioner Nick Nicholson asked for more stringent enforcement of the county’s evaluation policy and asked that each supervisor be more honest when grading employees.
Too many employees were receiving positive marks even when their work didn’t reflect the grades, he said.
County Administrator Len Sossamon said earlier this week he was surprised at how many evaluations had gone undone and believes some supervisors didn’t see the need for them given that the county was no longer giving out merit raises.
Sossamon said that is not a reason and that the new policy gives supervisors 90 days to complete the evaluations, enough time for those who have several employees under their charge.
Nicholson said some managers were 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 employees get in trouble and face termination or layoff and there is no previous performance evaluation indicating there were any problems on the job, he said.
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.
Sossamon said he reviewed many of the employee evaluations and saw no evidence supervisors were skewing the performance grade high or low.
Hernando County’s current policy mandates performance evaluations and annual appraisals are to be done “in a timely, fair and equitable manner” and that compensation adjustments would be based on their scores.
The new policy will direct all supervisors to do the evaluations from January through March so as to avoid confusion.
New hires will continue to receive a six-month evaluation, Sossamon said.
Nicholson said he is pleased Sossamon jumped on the problem so fast and believes having a set period for evaluations will prove beneficial.
“I think it’s a great idea to have them all done at the same time,” Nicholson said. “It certainly makes it easier to keep track of.”
Nicholson said supervisors’ excuse of not doing evaluations when they are not tied to merit raises is a “cop-out.”
Performance evaluations should be done annually to point out an employee’s deficiencies and strengths and it benefits all involved, he said.
“It’s that important,” he said. “I just think it’s a shame that our last two county administrators let this go. I feel confident that Len is going to take care of it and do a good job.”