Mark LeBusque

Performance Review Manager Traps

It’s that time of the year again – PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

Before you go down the usual path to an underwhelming Human experience please consider these 10 traps that many Managers fall into that will demotivate and disengage the very Humans you want to excel:

1. Write Your Own Review For Me – a classic practice of the “time poor” or “disinterested” Manager that is usually too busy revelling in the day to day technical work. You know the stuff they were good at that landed them a promotion to people manager. Asking your people to write their reviews is lazy and inexcusable and shows them that your “our people are our most important asset” line is at best bullshit.

2. Pick Your Mates – at review time the good old 360-degree feedback requests become the most important work; especially if you want a good review. Telling your team to pick their mates to review them is a way of fooling them into a false sense of security and perhaps a way to save your own arse. Challenge them to ask for feedback that they need to hear not feedback that you want to hear.

3. You Scratch My Back – a form of collusion where you rally your peers to enter into a contract to look after each other in the annual trade in human flesh (the Bell Curve Meeting). It serves you well but sticks out like the proverbial dogs you know what and creates more friction amongst your peers than it is worth. In the end no-one wins in this process.

4. Sacrifice the New Starter – calling someone a “Developing 2” because they’ve only been on board for 6 months or less might be a nice way for you to appease HR and create a curve that looks like a bell but it is really showing how spineless you are by being willing to throw someone under the bus. If you are about to do this cast your mind back to the interview process. Did you hire them because they were in need of development or were they ready to do amazing things? A great question to ask before you take the easy way out.

5. The Curves Not A Curve – the worlds not a perfect place either. It’s full of rough edges, ups and downs and crooked lines. Trying to squeeze humans into a beautifully formed bell curve sends a message that cosmetics are more important than competence. Numbers are more important than Humans. The organisation is driven by compliance rather than common sense. Just stop it.

6. The Good Bloke Factor – oh how they “boys club” has power at times of the performance review. The “good blokes” usually get rolled out to fill up the right hand side of the curve; most likely when your depth of understanding of their deliverables is not as good as it should be. “Oh everyone thinks he’s a good bloke” is not fair those who have worked their arses off yet get thrown into the mid-range usually because they’re not brown nosers or managers favourites.

7. I Fought Hard For You…But – being noble is only about serving you and a throw-away line that proves to your people that you don’t have the courage to stand up for them. Their Human Bullshit Detector goes off as soon as you say this post review. Just stop it.

8. Three (3) Is Still a Good Score – if it’s not a Five (5) then most Humans will be pissed so don’t roll this one out post-review. We all believe that we are doing an amazing job and if you haven’t regularly been having conversations outlining some areas for improvement throughout the year then this will fall on deaf ears. It’s a sign of a desperate manager who has nothing more to say. Kind of like the last very bad excuse you can come up with for someone not getting the rating they thought they should.

9. Surprise Me – all managers should have a “no surprises” policy, usually in the form of weekly or fortnightly conversations that review both performance metrics and behavioural observations. Bringing something up from 3 months ago to justify a rating will only infuriate a team member and demonstrate that you are a conflict avoider and not to be trusted. Surprises end up in damaging the trust contract and have long term implications on personal and work relationships.

10. It’s The Process – the old chestnut when everything else has turned to shit and you feel like you’ve dug yourself a massive hole you can’t get out of. Hiding behind the idiotic process will only serve to show how weak you are when things get a little heated. You can make the process better and before dropping this verbal diarrhoea on the table think about the long term stench it will leave in your relationship with those in your care.

Don’t be “that Manager” at this years Performance Review