Don’t Judge Me: Evaluation Or Judgement In the Workplace?

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I sat at the kitchen table as my 5-year old Daughter struggled through her handwriting exercises. I encouraged her to slow down and take her time. I reminded her to start her letters at the top, focus on straight lines, use good posture, and hold the pencil closer to the tip. I could tell the more I commented, the more frustrated she became. In an effort to evaluate and coach I was only exacerbating the problem. Anyway, who am I to judge? My handwriting could use some improvement too.

One of my job responsibilities is to evaluate the work and effort of copywriters, graphic designers, technical designers, and course developers. I should emphasize that I have never held any of those positions. I never studied design and my written skills require constant improvement. Still, every Wednesday I sit in a creative review where I evaluate the output from the previous week. I never know how to approach these meetings. I work with such talented individuals who care greatly about their craft and yet they have to present their material for my critique.

As I worked with my daughter I gained some clarity. My job is not to judge. My role is to encourage good habits and best practices. The same can be said for our creative reviews. I simply focus on best practices and provide suggestions. Sometimes my recommendations are incorporated and sometimes they’re not. What’s important is focusing on my tone and when I chose to provide constructive feedback. My Daughter became frustrated because I hammered one negative after the next and never pointed out what she was doing correctly. I overwhelmed and discouraged her.

When reviewing the work of my team I must remember those very things. I should always include positive feedback and stress what was done well. I must listen to their presentations, allow them to explain and defend their work, and know that mine is just an opinion. I need to recognize their talent, training, and hard work. Only then can I expect to encourage positive development.

How do you avoid judgment, and focus on evaluation?


Marilyn Cox

Marilyn Cox is the Director of Marketing for Second City Works - the B2B division of the famed Second City.

You know the buzzwords; inbound, outbound, content, demand gen, lead gen, martech, social media, account-based, advocacy, customer success, sales enablement, and analytics.She studies it, plans it, executes it, experiments with it, and loves it.

Through discovery, creation, and innovation she's learned to say "Yes, And".Like business, her career is one big improvisational act.

She leads all aspects of the brand and culture, developing and executing a clearly defined, integrated marketing communications strategy.Marilyn is responsible for planning, organizing, staffing, training, and managing all marketing functions to achieve objectives of growth, awareness, customer success and making work better.

Marilyn exists to empower sales and support the customer. When not geeking out over marketing analytics, she can be found daydreaming about her unrealized dream as a professional wrestler with the WWE.
3 Responses to "Don’t Judge Me: Evaluation Or Judgement In the Workplace?"
  1.' LouisColumbus says:

    Great post Marilyn and excellent food for thought.  While I don’t manage a staff right now, one of the most beneficial lessons learned was that I was there to serve them and help them grow as professionals.  It took a tremendous burden off of me to realize I didn’t have to be right all the time and have the perfect answers.  The more I worked to create a climate of high achievement, the better my relationship with my staff went.  Getting roadblocks out of the way from them so they could achieve more created a climate of collaboration.  It was difficult for me to do this with a master plan or regiment; it had to be reinforced by daily interactions and consistency.    It took nearly a year to create this kind of climate, and I am thankful I had the chance toe experience it with a great group of people.

  2.' Jessica Lovejoy says:

    Nice post with a unique perspective as always. For me, I attain the best evaluation if I share work that is still a work-in-progress. Changes can still be made. The critique I receive is rewarding because it’s not too late to take those ideas and incorporate them or evolve them into a final product. This type of evaluation is always sincere. But if I share an already completed project, it can allow for judgement, leaving me to realize what I could have done differently (but can’t do anything about at that point). I also find creative weekly meetings inspiring because it allows me to see how hard everyone else in the room is working toward the same overarching goal. I always look forward to them.

  3.' dmeister says:

    Making reviews contain at least some positives is critical. At the end of his NFL career my grandfather graded officials on tape. One of his caveats was to find and mention two positives for every negative. Everybody wants to improve. Solid lists of negatives unsurprisingly create negative emotions, especially over time.

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