IV.4. Performance Mentoring

Once the evaluation is complete, the task often falls to the chair to advise those employees (faculty and staff) whose professional performance fails to meet expectations. The follow-up to a student complaint may also require that the chair engages in some form of performance consultation with a faculty member. Given that few department chairs have formal mentoring training, there can be no small amount of discomfort involved. Whereas many of the chair’s duties are framed by the needs of the department collective, performance mentoring is a person-specific activity that focuses on that individual’s unique areas of expertise, job description, stage of career development, and employment rank and status. It goes without saying that effective mentoring also requires a high degree of confidentiality and sensitivity, without which the chair risks eroding employee trust. Performance mentoring is best done in reference to clear job performance expectations. Recommendations can then be linked to specific and manageable goals for improvement. It is also effective to establish a time frame for further review, coordinated with the task that is under improvement. Whatever the issue, the conversation needs to be focused on the objective performance, not on personality characteristics or subjective interpretations.