Grab Your Spot in the Front Seat for Employee Success

Dr. Jolene Church, SCP, ICF-MCC
4 min readOct 15, 2021


photo credit: Shutterstock

By: Dr. Jolene Church

“Oh yeah! It’s time for my annual performance evaluation. I’m so excited!”…said nobody EVER!

What is it about performance evaluation time that makes not only supervisors but also employees cringe?

To be quite frank, the answer is that employee evaluations are like driving at 80 miles per hour down the road but looking in your rear view mirror instead of looking at the road ahead. I’m sure you would agree that probably would not work out so well. This is because most performance evaluations are designed with a major focus on the past, with very little regard to the future.

So what can we do to make looking backwards more meaningful when looking at the present and looking into the future? The answer is obvious, stop focusing on the past and design a desired future.

Performance evaluations are an opportunity for manager and supervisors to partner with their employees for success — success for the manager/supervisor — employee success — organizational success — customer success.

Rating what went well in the past and what didn’t go so well is only part of the evaluation process. The real meat of the process is designing in a winning outcome for all parties.

Employee motivation to excel and help solve business problems is a result of planning — and that is exactly what the performance evaluation process is all about — planning — and that takes partnership.

When managers and supervisors assume the co-pilot role, partnering on the employment journey with their employees, managers and supervisors are in a much better position to get the employee to where they need or desire them to be and reach the intended destination.

Managers, is there a project that you would LOVE to accomplish but don’t know how to get it done? Employees, wouldn’t it be nice to have something to look forward to when you come to work each day AND have a sense of accomplishment when you tackled something monumental, leaving your mark on the organization?

“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” Zig Ziglar

Planning is the element of the evaluation process that gets us out of the rear view mirror and looking through the front window to where we want to go. One thing we do need from the rear view mirror is awareness.

A solid performance evaluation process includes the following elements:

· Assessment of past performance (what went well/what didn’t go so well)

· An action plan to improve or build upon assessment areas

· Linkage between skills/knowledge building and the assessment areas

· Goals that connect the action plan and growth to organizational outcomes

Two-way elements that must exist are:

· Communication

· Input — lots of input!

· Support/Partnership

· Growth Mindset

· Commitment

Assessing past performance in context of each review area (quantity of work, quality of work, knowledge/skills/ability to perform job, safety consciousness, etc.) provides us with a planning base. This is not simply the supervisor’s perspective, but also input from the employee through self-assessment of accomplishments and areas to work on. Once we have a measurement of each area (strengths/weaknesses) we can develop a plan to improve areas of underperformance or enhance areas where performance is at or above standard.

The action plan takes the good, the bad and the ugly from the past and uses that information to design what the future should look like (expectations and desires). Actionable steps — what one thing can be done to improve the performance area? Again, input is needed from both sides to figure out what is going to move the needle.

How could enhanced knowledge and skills add to accomplishing the action plan? What would help? The perspective of both the supervisor and the employee is vital to determine what enhanced skillset could be a game-changer in improving or building upon past performance.

Finally, becoming visionary, and this applies to both the employee and supervisor, is critical. If you are going on a trip and have no idea where you want to go, not only will you be ill equipped for the trip, but you will never know when you have arrived. As pilot and co-pilot, both the supervisor and employee need to know where they want to go so that they can develop the route to get there. The co-pilot doesn’t simply sit back. The co-pilot is essential in planning and being a resource to the pilot — and guess what? They communicate frequently!

Setting goals (destination) requires some vision on both parties part. What are the goals of the organization or perhaps the department/division? What is the organization’s or department’s — “Wouldn’t it be cool if….. (fill in the blank)?” This question helps spawn creativity and innovation. Out of the box, thinking requires that everyone involved in the planning process get out the box of how we are currently doing business.

When we set goals based on out of the box thinking, we set meaningful goals that feel great to accomplish — for everyone involved in the process. This is when the performance evaluation process becomes exciting because we aren’t driving 80 miles an hour while looking in the rearview mirror. Instead, we are focused intently on the future, enjoying the scenery along the way. We aren’t sitting in the front seat alone; we have our co-pilot helping guide us successfully to the destination.

Dr. Jolene Church is a best-selling author, success coach, business strategist, and human resources professional. Her work has helped transform underperforming Wall Street portfolios and people’s lives around the world. Visit for more information.



Dr. Jolene Church, SCP, ICF-MCC

Executive coach and workforce optimization consultant. Member of the Forbes Coaches Council. Best-selling author and speaker.