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workers. We should always be able to know how many clients a worker
should see each week, how much improvement they should achieve, how
many reports a worker should write and when they are due, and how
long it takes, on average, to achieve desired results.
One of the reasons we have difficulty evaluating workers is that many
work-related behaviors in the human services are stated in the vague and
unhelpful language that policy makers find upsetting and courts find
unhelpful whenever law suits are filed because a worker believes he or she
has been mistreated. To better show what this means, consider the
American Board of Examiners in Clinical Social Work (2008) statements
regarding the skills, knowledge, and values that social work clinical super-
visors should possess. The following was chosen at random: “The clinical
supervisor is aware of how client outcomes can be affected by supervisor/
supervisee bias about social work modalities when formulating treatment
interventions” (p. 31). That certainly sounds good, but how could we
possibly know if the supervisor is aware of biasing factors without some
measurement? Being aware isn't an active behavior. Supervisors might be
aware but not change their behavior or that of the worker. Is there a
connection between knowing something and doing something? Often
there isn't, but in competency-based evaluation, the relationship between
expectations and the actual achievement of
those expectations is the
primary way to accurately evaluate a worker.
Similar vague language is used in agency practice to describe expecta-
tions of workers, which are equally difficult to measure. I can recall being
on a tenure and promotion committee where we were asked to make deci-
sions, important decisions, about people's career without specific standards
of productivity. How many refereed journals were required for tenure to
associate professor level? We would ask our dean. He'd shrug and say,
“That's your decision to make. If I don't agree with you, you'll know it.”
How many committees should a faculty member be on to suggest
acceptable university service? “That's up to you.” If a professor has evening
courses should we cut them some slack on student evaluations? Are student
evaluations even relevant? “That's your decision,” he said “although I
might not agree.”
And let's remember that caught in the middle is the client who
expects to be better as a result of the service we offer. How can he or she
expect to be better if we have no way of knowing ourselves? To help give
worker evaluation a more rational base, this chapter will argue that if it
can't be measured,
it doesn't belong.
If
it
isn't
related to client
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