Blacksburg, Virginia – Appraisal Review

The appraisal review – my most important and most distinguished task as a manager

It’s October and I’m on my way from Frankfurt to Blacksburg, Virginia. It goes to my work in Narrows, a long but also beautiful journey, especially at this time of year.

The flight to Washington, DC and from there almost four hours by rental car through Virginia on the edge or through the Blue Ridge Mountains. It also happens that a bear crosses the road when you drive off the main highways. I feel a bit reminded of my home town, the Black Forest, apart from the bears.

I will be there for a week and look forward to the visit, the people there, my employees. And I am sure, I will enjoy the personal meeting with the responsible site director.

Before the year-end meeting with each of my ten directly assigned employees (“Direct Reports”), I never thought about it, because it had already been conducted in the course of the year and not just once.

I only had to think about how to summarize the findings from the conversations in the corresponding database on the HR portal.

My workplace was in Amsterdam or Frankfurt. My Direct Reports in eight other locations spread across three different continents. The formal employee appraisal would therefore have to take place by telephone via video. Not so good, I thought.

That’s why I made it a habit to schedule a personal conversation with the plant manager reporting to me every time I travel to the chemical plants assigned to me under responsibility.

We called it “development talk” together and did it several times a year. Together, we had made taking the time for this a TOP priority. Looking ahead together.

My rules for the conversations:

✅ The preparation – My visits were planned and announced. And thus my question, which personal topics we should talk about from the point of view of my Direct Reports. So I wanted to listen first.

✅ Enough time – We took well over an hour for it and usually it was planned in such a way that there was no follow-up appointment for both of us.

✅ The atmosphere of conversation – Ideally, the conversation took place outside the hectic working day, in part, individually different, even in a quiet place at dinner or during a long walk.

From the feedback, I heard that not only I appreciated and often enjoyed these conversations, but also my Direct Reports. And that was one of the most important things.

I had a favourite restaurant for the conversation in Narrows. The Palisades is located in a former General Store and its unique countryside setting is overlooking the New River Valley, providing a fantastic view and a feeling of being “at home”, like in the Black Forest. The basis for a good conversation

➡ And you? Have you already thought about planning the conversations for the next year ?

If you are interested in my experiences and tips regarding conversation preparation, even in difficult conversations, feel free to contact me directly.

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