Evaluations. Performance reviews. Feedback.
Quality assurance appears to be a topic of much conversation today. There is a genuine interest to know how “we” are “doing.”
I recently called my bank to report a stolen credit card. After completing business, the customer service representative asked: “Would you please stay on the line to complete a short survey for feedback on the service provided?” Suddenly our pleasant conversation became a complex numerical transaction rating the experience from one to five.
Feedback requests are everywhere: surveys arrive requesting evaluations from my dentist, grocery store. Printed receipts have numerical codes listed next to toll-free phone numbers you may call to evaluate the service provided. Feedback. “How are we doing?”
All of us have different abilities and spiritual gifts that transcend borders of evaluation.
In a reward-based transactional world, what happens with feedback provided? Does quality truly improve based on my observation? What if there were no changes, repercussions, or rewards to any feedback, and we all agreed that a “job well done is truly its own reward”? What would be left to improve on? What would be the measure of our improvement from feedback? What are the measures of our improvement from feedback about us?
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A colleague recently requested a recommendation letter for her teaching portfolio. Teaching interviews are unique. Not only are you interviewed by administrators; you also present a lesson (teach a class). The topic is assigned to you, and the audience is a mix of future colleagues and administrators who act the role of students.
“Two of the audience members behaved as disruptive students,” said my friend over dinner. “How is this a fair evaluation? Feedback in numbers and comments from strangers?” She moved food around her plate. “Every day in the classroom I am consciously effective because someone is watching me, assessing; I am nice because someone is observing me; behaving because you never know who is recording you on their cell phone.”
I smiled but quickly realized the depth of what she was observing: that “something” about our self requires editing because of feedback by others. Being a “good person” has no significant gravitas without the proper numbers to back it up. Any form of feedback affects more than just our professional esteem. We often fret over lingering thoughts of what others think or speak about us. Whose evaluations keep us up at night? Friends? Coworkers? Employers? Family?
I’m still pondering the conversation about evaluations and how these often highlight imperfections. It appears that evaluation methods limit the person. All of us have different abilities and spiritual gifts that transcend borders of evaluation. At the end of the day, we’re evaluated by no rubric, but through Jesus Christ. Having accepted Him as my Savior, my defective self is replaced by perfection that’s not mine, but motivates me to excel in my self-development, my desire to serve Him. I’m motivated to care for others, and my reward is fulfilling a mission of service for Christ.
Yes, there are human limitations of feedback toward one another. There are days we fumble through rough terrain and days we seem to sail safely through adversity. When no one is watching, in our service toward one another, how are we doing?
Dixil Rodríguez serves as a chaplain at Kettering Medical Center in Ohio.