Draft of the announcement

Subject: Develop a communication skills development goal for your annual performance evaluation

As the April 30th evaluations are approaching, it's time to start thinking about your personal development goals for the 2007-2008 year. Excellent communication skills are essential for your future success at Vanderbilt. Everyone should have one or two development goals devoted to improving their communication skills.

Things to Consider When Making Your Development Goals:
Talk with your supervisor and others who might help you to identify your strengths and to discover your weaknesses. How do you communicate with your co-workers and colleagues in your current position? Can you ask them for feedback on the quality of your communications, both oral and written? Are there any other positions you wish to work towards that will require additional communications skills? Identify one or two areas where you would like to see improvement.

Make a plan on how to improve in those areas. Plans should include specific activities that allow you to practice your skills. Include activities outside of your regular work duties that allow you to learn new skills and practice them in a low pressure environment. Also include activities that are part of your regular work duties -- there is no substitute for real work experience. If, for instance, you identify improved oral communication as a goal, you could plan to make a specific number of oral presentations of your analysis reports. Some of these presentations may take place in a low pressure environment such as a clinic or an informal group that you have gathered, while others may take place in your work environment such as analysis reports to collaborators. If improved written communications are your goal, you could make plans to write a specific number of analysis reports or papers that you send to specified persons for critique (supervisors or others). You could also make plans to attend workshops on writing offered by the department or the University or engage in a self-study program.

Your plan should include a way to track and report your effort and progress to your supervisor. Communication is rated in the credo section of the evaluation and your effort to improve is a major part of that rating. If your supervisor needs written descriptions of your goal and plan for your annual performance evaluation, please provide your supervisor with a brief paragraph on each of them by April 20th.

Be prepared to adapt and to ask for advice from those who have helped you to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Your initial plan may not meet your needs or you may progress beyond your current plan and require more ambitious goals. It is your responsibility to plan your activities, to solicit feedback on your progress, and to make judgments about whether these activities are meeting your goals. Your time is valuable. Concentrate your efforts on those activities that will most directly benefit you. If you make a consistent effort using efficacious strategies for improvement, then in time your excellent communication skills will be apparent to everyone.
Topic revision: r7 - 05 Apr 2007, RobertGreevy

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