I decided to interview Ayelen Marija who oversees the federal budget for the Refugee Services Office.
- What information and data do you look at to create a budget?
- The information we have to first gather is what the total budget that we have received from the federal government. Then we discuss what programs we want to continue funding from the needs of those we serve and what programs have had successful outcomes including participation.
- When needing to make budget cuts what are the first things you look out to cut?
- The first thing we looks at when making cuts is what program is not being successful or are there programs that are maybe duplicated services.
- Do you try to cut more than needed to compensate for overspending?
- Normally we try to cut out only what we need to do so that we don’t make too many drastic changes.
- When do you decide it’s time to resort to laying someone off due to budget cuts?
- We have had to make personnel cuts and typically it’s when programs have ended due to budget cuts or if their service is no longer needed. Other than that we really try to keep people employed.
- Do you prefer to have a finance team look at the numbers?
- Yes, we always have the finance team involved when we are making budgets. However, at the end of the day we make the programmatic decisions that affect the budget.
- Do you do continuous budgeting or do you just look at the budget at the end of the year?
- We have monthly meeting to ensure that we are on track to spend the budget accordingly. We don’t want to have a lot of surplus either.
- Do you only prepare one budget scenario or do you have multiple in case things go better or worse than planned?
- We only have one plan. We have to get our budget approved by the federal government so if we make changes we have to notify them.
- If you do not use your entire year budget do you roll that money over into the next year’s budget?
- Yes, and no, our funding does expire after 3 years from the day it was awarded to us. So we can roll some of it over however there are certain rules to it.
- Who has the final say on the budget?
- The federal government, however in our office our director does.
- If you go over budget where does that money come from?
- We can’t go over budget; the federal government does not pay for it. We have a very small reserve if needed. Those monthly meeting help us to stick to the budget.
The thing that I learned from this assignment, is how difficult it would be to have to manage a complex budget such as a hospital unit or a government contract budget. It taught me the importance of asking for help and if I was in charge of a budget, I would ask for input from several people and get their perspective. From the interview with Ayelen, she had a team of people that would look over the budget before it was finally submitted. I like that it’s a team effort. I will utilize this information by learning first how to read my units’ budget as well as the importance to ask questions and ask for input from my peers. I also appreciate those that manage my unit’s budget and hopefully they are better at it than me.
1. What did you actually learned from the unit. I learned that scheduling would be a head ache to be in charge of. When it works well its awesome, but every once in a while, you don’t always get the shift you want and that can be rough. Fortunately, it isn’t permanent and you get a new shift in a few weeks. Also that career development goals and plans are critical but that you should also be flexible for change and changes to your goals based on new information.
2. Discuss your feelings/experiences from the team activities? Did it change your opinion on the subject? If so, how? If not, why? From the team experience of staffing, I learned that having a say in what your schedule will be is something that most nurses prefer. Also that we need to understand the complexity of creating a nursing schedule and that it isn’t black and white. Their will always be situation that scheduling cannot take into account for.
3. How you will utilize the information learned in your nursing practice. I will take what I learned and not get frustrated when for a few weeks I don’t get the shifts that I want. Scheduling is difficult with alot of moving pieces.
4. You personal feelings about the material covered. I really enjoyed the materials covered. The individual team members 5 year career goal was interesting but I felt that I didn’t learn much other than what my teammates goals were.
I decided to interview Ashlyn Ottonelli who is on the disciplinary counsel for the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
- Before taking disciplinary action do you role play what you will say?
- Yes, we do. It makes it easier to make sure that it comes across right.
- How many warnings do you give your employees before termination?
- It depends on what the offence is. There are certain things that we are not able to tolerate, other than that we really try to help our employees to succeed.
- What types of situations would warrant immediate termination without warning?
- If they steal or have any physical alteration.
- Is it emotionally draining for you to have to terminate someone, if so how do you manage not to take the emotion home with you?
- It is very emotional; I make sure to talk to others in my office who are involved in the termination process to make sure we don’t take those feeling homes.
- When disciplining someone do you do it alone or have another staff member such as and HR representative present?
- We always try to have a second person there to be able to document the event and to make sure that things are not misunderstood.
- Do you ever terminate someone on a Friday?
- If the steps have been taken and warnings have been given, then we could do so.
- Do you like to hire a new employee before firing to prevent feeling under-staffed?
- No we really try to make sure that we give it our all before terminate someone.
- Did it take you time to feel comfortable terminating employees? How long?
- Yes, I don’t like to make people feel bad but I have to do what is best for the program. I still don’t love terminating people and it’s been 7 years.
- What difficulties have you faced firing employees?
- Most people knew it was coming so they don’t get too verbally angry but rather you can see the disappointment. The hard part is keeping my personal desire to make people feel well about themselves and knowing that they are going to be let go especially if they have a family to support.
- In disciplining a friend, was it challenging to have them see you as an authority figure?
- I always try to stay professional and let those I work with know that I am their friend however I do represent the company. It can be hard to let people go who have let me know about their personal issues especially if it’s out of their control.
- When you go into a firing/discipline interview do you still give the interviewer a chance to defend themselves or are you set in what your action will be?
- By the time we are letting someone go they, we have tried everything to prevent it. We typically put plans in place so they should know that they have not met the outcomes.
- Before a firing/discipline interview what type of information do you try and gather and access?
- We try to have all of the documentations about the prior discussions and any other things we need to present our point.
Performance Appraisal Interview Questions
Nathan W. Butler
I decided to interview Alexx Goeller who conducts evaluations for the AmeriCorps VISTA program.
- Do the employees complete a self-evaluation before meeting with you? Do you feel they are usually honest?
- We don’t have employees complete a self-evaluation prior to meeting with them.
- What kind of scale do you use to evaluate performance (poor, below average, average, etc., a number scale, etc)? Is the performance evaluation consistent for all employees?
- We use the same performance evaluation for all employees and it is reviewed with the person during orientation. We use a pass or fail evaluation scale.
- Do you let employees know in advance when appraisals will be happening and how long they can expect it to last? Do you feel that employees behave better in the days or weeks preceding an appraisal?
- All employees are told when hired that they will be evaluated at 6 months and then every year in July. I schedule a meeting with each of them a month in advance. I don’t think they behave better prior to our meeting, however I do find that they all review the evaluation form prior.
- What advice would you give to an employee who is receiving poor evaluations but has a lot of other things going on in their life?
- We face this often that personal life can affect their performance. We tell them that they need to communicate with their supervisor. Most supervisors are “humans” to and will try to help where they can. However the employee needs to keep performing their job especially if they do not have any leave left.
- Do you ever find it hard to be honest to employees you generally like, but their performance is not meeting standards? How do you handle this?
- It can be hard to be impartial if I have a better relationship with a person, however all evaluations are done with another supervisor, this helps to address and personal bias. At the end of the evaluation the employee is given a copy of the report.
- If an employee is given a poor appraisal, what are the consequences? When is termination acceptable?
- If the employee is given a poor evaluation we set up a plan and have several meeting afterwards to follow up. If the plan is not followed by the employee then we can terminate if all things are documented.
- Do you prefer to give out raises at the time of appraisals? Do you feel like this increases productivity and appraisal ratings?
- We don’t give out raises at the time of appraisals.
- If you know you are going to be taking disciplinary action, do you prefer to have others in the room (i.e. human resources, social work, etc)?
- Yes we always have someone in the room during a disciplinary action.
- How often do you prefer to do appraisals? (yearly, quarterly, monthly?) Why do you prefer this time frame?
- We conduct them 6 months after the person is hired and then yearly.
- Do you make goal in the appraisal together or do you have the employee bring goals already made? If goals are made how often do you follow up on them?
- We make goals when the person is hired and they are reviewed at the evaluation. If goals were met then we set new goals. If they are not met then we re-evaluate and discuss why they weren’t met. We check in on goals quarterly.
- What do you hope to accomplish from the appraisals? Do you actually see an improvement from the feedback given to your employees?
- We hope to have quality work from those who we work with and that they feel they are appreciated. We find that those who want to succeed in their job take the feedback and shine.
- If you know you are going to be taking disciplinary action, do you practice what you plan to say beforehand?
- Yes, it makes it easier to make sure it’s clear why the decision has been made.