Do You Know Where They’re At?

by Dafina McMillan

in Interviews

This is the second installment of our interview series with Robbin Walker, featured in our May 12th Leadership Teleconference, “Do You Know Where They’re At?: Tips for Assessing Your Staff.” Robbin was the esteemed trainer of our Expanding the Theatre Manager’s Repertoire program, and you can learn more about the teleconference, including how to participate, by clicking here.

  1. Why is assessment critical?

There is an old saying that goes something like, “If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there?” This saying can be applied to assessment as well. If you don’t know where your employees are at in terms of their development and skill, how will you know how to coach and develop them? A solid assessment is important for leaders to have development blueprints for his or her staff.

  1. You’ll be providing several tools and resources on the call. Can you share one essential tip for assessment?

One tip for leaders is to engage in open, candid and ongoing dialogue about development with your employees to really understand what is important to them and to you.

  1. Is there such a concept of over-assessing?

The need for ongoing assessment is important, but what is most critical is that you actively work with your employees to help them develop their key strengths and help them manage the things that get them into trouble. If you simply assess and give feedback and take no action, you will have defeated the whole purpose of gathering information in an assessment.

  1. What value, if any, is there in self-assessing?

Self-insight and self-awareness are important but they are generally biased and incomplete. By getting feedback from others—from your boss, peers and those whom you supervise—gives one a much more comprehensive understanding of how effective one is and how one is perceived by others. What ever a person’s perception is of you, it is truth to them, so why not try to have your perception and theirs match as closely as possible.

  1. Can you give an example of when assessing went terribly wrong?

Unfortunately, I can think of too many! But a common thing that happens with leaders is that they allow one incident with an employee to unduly influence their overall assessment of that individual and are unable to see the other strengths or gifts that the employee brings to the table.

Thanks to Robbin for answering our questions, and hopefully you’ll join us on the 12th!


Robbin Walker, Consultant, Walker Consulting Group: After 23 years as a senior consultant for Target Corporation, Robbin entered “retirement” with her husband Richard in 2007. She and her husband established the Walker Consulting Group (WCG) in 2008, where she continues to share her consulting expertise in the areas of talent management, managing inclusion and diversity, coaching, teambuilding, as well as all areas of personal and leadership development. Having experience with multiple levels of leadership from senior leaders to front-line managers, she brings the classroom to life with her high energy facilitation style, humor and participative group interaction. She believes strongly that being authentic and giving and receiving meaningful feedback is the basis for life-long learning. WCG’s clients include: the Alley Theatre, the League of Resident Theatres, St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, TCG, among others.

She is a graduate of Minnesota State University at Mankato and holds a B.S. in Teaching in Education with major emphasis in the disciplines of speech, theatre and art. In past chapters, Robbin taught high school at the American Foundation School in Mexico City and Centennial High School in Circle Pines, MN; conducted the “norming” phase on the development of a comprehensive battery of tests with internationally acclaimed educational psychologist, Dr. Richard Woodcock; counseled high school drop-outs on pre-employment/life skills and helped in their preparation for passing the GED; and worked in the Youth Services division of a national alternative education program based in Washington, DC.