Our theme this month is giving. I am sure the editors intended the giving of our time, talents and treasure for the betterment of our fellow man. We should all do that – not just at this time of year, but all year long. However, I want to talk about something else we tend to give this time of year – performance reviews and the consequences of them. Most corporations of any size have some kind of rating/review system, and small organizations would be well served to incorporate those best practices as well. There are three things I would like to recommend as you consider the rating – and consequences of rating – your employees.

  • What is fair is not always equal and what is equal is not always fair. My favorite example of this happened when I was in my second professional job. I worked with a team of 3 people. The industry was experiencing a cyclical downturn, and our manager’s budgeted “reward” options consisted of about enough money for one decent raise, one company car that was assigned to our department and not being used, and one unused office in the group. One of us wanted the office, one of us needed a second car, and the other one could really use a raise. Since we had all worked hard as a team and each of us deserved recognition of the merit of our work, he could have rewarded all of us in a way that we would have appreciated. However, since he could not give us all the same thing, he gave none of us anything and we were all demotivated.
  • Try to avoid rate creep, but be sure your team is fairly treated. I came up through finance. We tend to be people who like to measure things and “fairly present” information. Sales teams are typically made up of motivational speakers. That is why they are good at what they do. While this difference is healthy in an organization, it is a problem at review time. What finance and sales rate as a “good job”, may vary wildly. The leadership of the group needs to do the best it can to be sure that there are not “low” grader and “high” grader groups slanting the landscape and the distribution of raises.
  • Finally, for managers and supervisors, preparing reviews, whether they are one page or five and whether the manager has to write one or fifty, is a pain. It is time we would rather be doing something else. It generally falls at the end of the year which is the busiest time for most companies. However, what you say is critical to that employee. Whether he or she is the CEO or the receptionist, everyone cares what someone thought about their performance. This may be the one most important thing you do all year. It will pay the most dividends- good or bad – in the next year. Block out time for it. Give serious thought to it. Pave the way for an outstanding performance next year.


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