What is it that you do here, exactly?
March 9, 2012 11:57 AM   Subscribe

I have been asked to assist in drafting my "critical elements" for success, which will be used to evaluate my job performance. What should I be on the lookout for?

I have been on the job for about 9 months with a federal agency in a newly created position, and my supervisor has asked me to review the "critical elements" for my job. I am new to the concept of "critical elements" and was wondering if there were any particular pitfalls I should be aware of.

The current draft seems fairly anodyne; I am expected to provide thought leadership to my agency in my area of expertise and am expected to develop and implement certain initiatives. Conceptually, it seems accurate. Informal feedback on my job performance has been very positive, too.
posted by QuantumMeruit to Work & Money (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One of my relatives works for a federal regulatory agency on a professional level, and she's told me that these sorts of evaluations, like the application process, are pretty boneheaded. Your position has "critical elements" which are defined by the agency, and the bean counters that review these reports are looking for little more than a report which parrots back the language of the elements.

So if a critical element is "Manage groups of employees in accomplishing assigned tasks," your report might say something like "Satisfactorily managed groups of employees in accomplishing assigned tasks." It really may be that stupid.

I'd be shocked if they were actually looking for creative, substantive input. It's highly probable that no one cares, but dammit if those forms don't have to be filled out.

I am not a federal employee, and this is all hearsay, but I believe it to be true.
posted by valkyryn at 1:26 PM on March 9, 2012

valkyryn, it sounds like OP is being asked to aid in creating these "critical elements", not in writing a performance review based on established critical elements.

If that's the case, I'd work to make sure that you have fewer, rather than more, critical elements in your job description. The more you have listed, the easier it is to get tripped up. Your link says best practices are 3-7, so I'd aim for 3-4.

Also, you state that you provide thought leadership and develop and implement intiatives. I would find ways to make those goals somewhat quantifiable, as "thought leadership" could be marked unsatisfactory if somewhere down the line you bring great ideas to the table that all get scrapped by an uncooperative superior.

Just because things seem to be going well now, make sure you are protected in case things get worse down the road.
posted by trivia genius at 1:38 PM on March 9, 2012

In my experience of big bureaucracies, they want to 'manage by objective' and to have an objective way to assess your performance. Don't set the bar too high; and keep on mind that the landscape changes, so don't use specific objectives that can be derailed by crises. In fact, realigning tasks and priorities in response to significant events might be one of the critical elements.
posted by theora55 at 2:54 PM on March 9, 2012 [5 favorites]

Seems like a good chance to go on the attack a bit. If you think you might want to move around or up in the org later, overlap one of your elements a bit with your co-worker's or boss's position description slightly, so later you can claim to already have "some experience"

You need te be careful to use language that aligns with the grade standards, too. That is, a GS-14 might "manage blah blah blah" while a GS-12 "supervises" people. It might be tempting to say you do less impressive stuff to make it easier to greatly exceed standards, but it looks worse later when you're applying for the next job. Or heaven forbid, sweating a personnel cut.
posted by ctmf at 11:13 AM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older How can I be ok with feeling negative emotions?   |   Help me avoid defaulting on a bank loan and... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.