Keeping Resolutions

Originally published in the January 3, 2013 edition of Just a few days ago, many of us made New Year’s resolutions. Very often, we choose resolutions that address something fundamental and ambitious—to get healthy, work harder, be nicer. But we can predict the fate of all too many of these resolutions. More than a few optimistic revelers will set a lofty goal—only to lose their way somewhere around February. Yet those who are really serious about following through will set up a system to measure progress toward their goals, and then stick to that system. They will hold themselves accountable. When I was elected president of the board of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County two years ago, the District had no formal system in place for staff to create goals and measure progress. There were no required performance evaluations, no regular six-month or one-year check-ins with supervisors to examine areas of strength and weakness. According to the comprehensive desk audit my office ordered in 2011, no staff member had undergone a formal performance review in at least 15 years. Through the audit, my administration identified this serious issue early on and immediately set about fixing it. We worked with a team, including an outside consultant, to update and clarify job descriptions and reporting relationships. Ultimately, we set up our first comprehensive system to evaluate the performance of every staff member working for the Forest Preserve District.