Just wanted to draw attention to a great blog posting of one of my classmates:
This posting deals with handling requests for references. I found this particularly interesting as I get asked all the time for employment references. Granted my context is a bit different–generally these are employment references of my direct reports. Nonetheless, there is both a thrill and awkwardness to them. I also found this interesting to get a teacher’s perspective, as I am currently looking to apply for a Master’s program which will require academic references.
What I really like about this post is how she and her colleagues have developed a matrix for professional behaviour so that leaners can self-assess. She also has learner’s requesting references to write the letter, so it is very self-directed.
I think this is a very good method that could even be applied to the workplace. One of the major fears that managers and employers have with giving references is backlash for giving a bad reference. You can be sued for giving a bad reference in some cases, particularly if it prevents the employee from gaining employment:
By making the reference based on the self assessment of the employee you can avoid the surprise of a negative reference. If you disagree with the self-assessment that the employee provides you can always decline to provide the reference directly to the employee.