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Maximizing Intern Contributions in Your Hill Office | Commentary

Additionally, acknowledging good performance and letting interns know when they have met office expectations is just as important as critiquing performance. The key to effective feedback — whether positive or negative — is to provide it quickly and objectively to clearly identify the specific behavior you seek to reinforce or improve.

One way to do this is to use the “10-50 Rule.” After a staffer gives guidance on the assignment, the intern checks back in with the staffer after 10 percent of the work is done. This allows the staffer to make adjustments and ensure the intern is on the right track. Then, the intern checks back in at 50 percent of project completion. At this point, maybe the staffer sees unforeseen developments but can again make changes to ensure both the supervisor’s satisfaction with the work product and the intern knowing that the job genuinely contributed to the needs of the office.

Finally, the CMF estimates that less than 20 percent of offices conduct formal evaluations of their interns. Letting them know at the beginning of the internship that they will be evaluated, and on what criteria, contributes to a more professional internship. A management expert once opined, “That which gets measured gets done.” Let interns know up front the metrics you’ll use to assess their performance and you’ll not only give them a more valuable experience, you’ll get the work product the office needs to enhance your effectiveness.

Bradford Fitch is president and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation and co-designed the intern orientation program currently used by the House.

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