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Making use of a performance appraisal system is not the cureall for a poorly managed agency. It can, however, help a field manager get beyond the numbers to truly understand how his or her agents perform. It is this understanding that is critical if the manager is going to help agent grow to their potential.
No matter what job, sport, or activity that we find ourselves involved in, it is human nature to want to know how well we are doing. The ex-mayor of New York City handled his desire to get feedback directly. Ed Koch simply walked up to people on the streets in his city and asked, "How am I doing?"
As early as grade school we have ways of knowing how well we are performing. If we are doing well, we get A's and B's; if not, the D's and F's show up. However, equally important are the teacher's notorious red scribbles on our tests and papers. It is the information contained in the teacher's comments that identifies why we have done well or where our specific mistakes lie. This information is critical for improvement and future development.
Whether the title is manager, agency head, or general agent, anyone who runs an agency clearly assumes the role of teacher. All too often, agency "teachers" provide the grades by telling agents how well they are performing but neglect to use the red pencil to explain what specific actions are needed to improve and enhance development.
The likely reason for this is that the "grades" are readily available. Being an industry driven by numbers, figures reflecting levels of sales activity and production are …