Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Here Comes Da Judge

I work in a position where part of my job is to judge the performance and abilities of those that I work with, from students to postdoctoral researchers to technicians. I am responsible for filling out their performance evaluations at the end of each year or to write assessment letters (so-called letters of recommendation) for them. This position as judge is an important responsibility that I take very seriously. I actually enjoy preparing these letters for individuals that I know are hard working, efficient, dedicated, and bright. I understand this helps them get considered for jobs to which they apply or to help them get the promotions that they are after. In fact, these letters are quite easy to prepare. What is more difficult is having to write a letter or prepare an evaluation for someone who is not particularly bright or clever at their work. I fall into a dangerous trap in dealing with this type of person. When I feel that someone is not above threshold (i.e. rated good or excellent at their work), I tend to lose respect for them as a person. Based on the fact that they are not particularly good at their job, I write them off entirely as worthless. Try as I might to get past this, to work on this area of myself, I have not seemed to make any progress. What's a judge to do?