BEP 76 – Performance Appraisals: Setting Goals (2)

This is the second in a two-part Business English Pod lesson on performance appraisals. In the first lesson, we covered giving feedback. In this ESL podcast, we will discuss setting goals.

The American poet Carl Sandberg once said, “Nothing happens unless first we dream.” To this we can add the words of time management expert Diana Scharf Hunt: “Goals are dreams with deadlines.”

To reach our dreams, it’s necessary to set goals. Without goals, there is no change, no development, no success. This is just as true for an individual as it is for an organization. That’s why, along with feedback, goal setting is a very important part of the appraisal process. So in this follow-up podcast on job appraisals, we’ll be focusing on strategies and expressions for setting goals during the appraisal interview. Much of the language we’ll be learning in this lesson is also useful in any meeting where we need to discuss and set targets.

Wendy and Derrick, Wendy’s manager, have already discussed her progress and set goals for the areas of customer satisfaction and job training. As the listening continues, they turn to talking about two important productivity measurements.

Pay attention to the language Derrick uses to structure the conversation and to negotiate and agree goals with Wendy.

Listening Questions

1) What are the two important productivity measurements that Derrick discusses with Wendy?
2) How does Derrick feel about Wendy making one-off (that is, special) solutions for each customer?
3) What does Derrick advise Wendy to tell a customer who has not booked enough bandwidth?

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BEP 75 – Performance Appraisals: Giving Feedback (1)

Performance appraisals – sometimes called job performance evaluations or reviews – are a powerful way to develop staff’s potential. These skills are important not just for HR (Human Resources) professionals, but for any manager or supervisor who has responsibilities over other staff.

For performance appraisals to succeed, however, it’s important that they are conducted in a structured way. In addition, it’s important that skill and diplomacy are used to handle the two main tasks of the appraisal – giving effective feedback and setting goals.

So this is the first in a two-part Business English Podcast lesson that focuses on structure, skill and diplomacy in performance appraisals. In this podcast, we will deal with giving feedback. In the second, we will handle setting goals.

This episode focuses on giving effective feedback that creates a positive environment and builds trust. These feedback skills are useful not only in performance appraisals, but also in any situation that requires making critical comments to someone about their work.

Wendy is a new hire at ConStar’s videoconference call center. She has been working there for about 10 months, including training, so now it’s time for her first six-month performance review. Derrick, the manager of the operations department, will be giving Wendy her appraisal.

As a “videoconference coordinator” for ConStar, Wendy’s job requires using special equipment to set up and connect videoconferences for Fortune 500 clients. ConStar’s customers hold regular remote meetings among multiple locations all around the world. Wendy’s job is to make the connections between locations and to solve customer’s problems when they call into the help desk.

What kind of feedback will Derrick give Wendy? She is really smart, but she tends to get hot under the collar when she works under pressure. That means, she gets upset when she feels job stress. Sometimes she loses her temper, and her colleagues have complained about it.

Listening Questions

1) How many meetings is Wendy handling per day at the moment?
2) What’s the main issue that Derrick wants to give Wendy feedback on?
3) What advice does Derrick give Wendy to help her correct the problem?

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Business News 06 – Offshoring

This Business English News podcast examines the topic of offshoring jobs. “Offshoring” means to move part of a company’s operations (usually supporting functions such as finance or HR) to another country – literally “off shore.” Another commonly used term related to this topic is “outsourcing” – this means to use a different company to handle some supporting tasks. The key difference is that outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean the work is done in a different country.

The topic of offshoring, or outsourcing work overseas, is certainly a popular one these days, and many people in Western Europe and North America are quite concerned that this practice will lead to less job opportunities in their countries. However, our story details a report from a well know management consultancy that concludes these concerns may be exaggerated or “overblown.”

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Business News 01 (Transcript) – Business Communication

This is the transcript for the first of our regular Business English News podcasts. We hear how people communicate at work and the different factors that can affect how communication takes place.

We suggest that you first listen to the reading and make a note of any English words you are not familiar with. Then read a copy of the article and see if you can guess the meaning of the words by looking at how it is used. Finally, listen to the explanation and discussion of the vocabulary and see if you guessed correctly.

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