If You Hate Performance Evals, Don’t Read This…
by Glenn Shepard
June 28, 2016

Category:  Management

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Dear Glenn,

    Do you believe it’s a conflict of interest for a manager to ask their direct report’s spouse (who is a manager at a different company) to hire one of the manager’s relatives?
    This happened in our department and it seems it would be, especially since the manager is directly responsible for the employee’s compensation and future upward mobility with our company.

- Amber in Sausalito, CA

Dear Amber,

    Absolutely. In business it’s called nepotism; in politics it’s called cronyism. The question you didn’t ask is “What should you do about it?” and the answer is “NOTHING” if you want to keep your job.
    As one of my favorite childhood bands, the Atlanta Rhythm Section, sang in one of their hit songs, “The rats keep winning the rat race”.
Thanks for your question.

- Glenn in Nashville, TN
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As much as managers hate to give them and employees hate to receive them, performance evals are a necessary evil for a simple reason… Nothing can be improved until it’s measured.

Annual performance evaluations are a common fact of life in corporate America, yet this time-honored tradition simply doesn't get the job done anymore. The once-a-year trek to the boss's office is met with trepidation, even among the best employees. The prospect of sitting down with your boss, who’s holding your personnel file in their hands, is an intimidating one.

To make matters worse, annual evals do little to review how an employee performed a certain project or task 10 or 11 months ago. They tend to focus on a few major events over the course of the year, and minor wins and losses are forgotten.

The issues the annual review addresses are very often ones that should’ve been addressed already. As a result, the annual review is often of little use, serving only to re-hash things that have already long since been discussed and resolved.

This process can be dramatically improved with a simple change of schedule.

Instead of waiting until the end of the year when people are up for a raise, start giving a mid-term evaluation around July 1st (or whenever the mid-point is in your evaluation period). It’s like a mid-term exam in college.

There’s no pay increase tied to the mid-term eval. It’s just a checkpoint to let people know how they’re doing, and what areas they need to focus on improving in order to earn the maximum raise possible when the end of year eval rolls around.

As managers, we say things like “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect”. When we delegate tasks to our employees, we establish checkpoints and ask for progress reports before a project is due. But when we wait until the end of the year to give evals, we violate both of those principles.

Don’t want until the end of the year to let your employees have a peek at their score card.

To Your Success,

Glenn Shepard
Glenn Shepard


P.S. Here’s even more reason to do evals twice a year. In 2000, the average person had an attention span of 12 seconds. According to a Microsoft survey, it had dropped to 8 seconds by 2015. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds. This means the average person now has an attention span shorter than a goldfish.

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