A new client reached out to my company requesting we provide their management team with training on how to conduct performance evaluations. The new CEO had been directed by the board to restart performance evaluations. The board believed by doing so the employees would know what was expected of them so they could then help increase sales and profits. The company hadn’t used performance evaluations in over ten years. The former CEO had willy-nilly promoted some, while not promoting others. Few in leadership had real management or leadership skills. Poor performers were allowed to stay. Poor behavior wasn’t addressed. Things had been on autopilot for over ten years and their revenues were showing it.
Whether you believe in the effectiveness of performance evaluations or not, this tactical, naïve directive of the board is what makes my eyes go twitchy. Why would they think restarting performance evaluations would clarify performance expectations and drive sales? That’s so illogical it’s scary. The problem isn’t the absence of performance evaluations. The problem is a lack of direction, clear goals, training, support, feedback, accountability, recognition… Hmmm, it sounds as if the problem is a lack of leadership.
The problem is a lack of leadership.
When leaders get comfortable and forget their jobs are to drive their organizations forward while developing their team members and providing them with the skills, tools, and resources needed to do their jobs now and into the future, things go awry. Without a clear direction forward, team members will soon become frustrated or uninterested because there’s no apparent purpose for the work they do. Without clear goals that produce measurable results, it’s difficult to track results and for employees to stay excited and engaged. Without training, support or feedback, it’s easy for employees to develop poor skills and habits, and believe they’re performing well. Without accountability for owning one’s actions and gaining recognition for one’s contributions, it’s easy to see how an entire employee population can become apathetic. Why work differently? Why try harder? It won’t make a difference anyway…
When leaders fail to provide the direction, goals, training, support, and feedback their team members need, they fail their teams. They’ve failed at leadership. These leaders have no right to evaluate team member performance when they’ve not performed well themselves.
You Earn the Right to Comment on Another’s Work.
Before you start, continue, or terminate the use of performance evaluations, ask yourself ‘Why?’ Is the performance evaluation form or process the real issue or solution, or is there a deeper leadership issue that needs to be addressed? When implemented and used correctly by leaders who have done their jobs well, performance evaluation forms and meetings are powerful. They can be incredibly impactful tools for discussing skill growth, performance effectiveness, and development opportunities going forward. When implemented and used incorrectly by leaders who have failed to do their jobs, performance evaluation forms and meetings are demoralizing and dangerous. Before you comment informally or formally on another person’s work, be sure you’ve earned that right.
Performance evaluations won’t fix leadership problems.
Copyright MMXVI - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz and her team work with leaders to create focused plans for their organizations' future. Then they teach these leaders how to make their plans a reality.