Saturday, October 21, 2006

Ten Reasons Why Managers Give Inflated, Inaccurate, Performance Evaluations

  1. They failed to talk to the employee about the performance problem or misconduct when it first occurred and are reluctant to bring it up months later.
  2. They believe the employee's poor performance will reflect poorly on them.
  3. They are afraid of confrontation.
  4. They are afraid of the employee.
  5. The performance evaluation system won't permit merit increases to be given to employees who receive a rating that is less than Meets Standards and the manager wants the employee to get a merit increase.
  6. They feel they could have done more to help the employee.
  7. They think a low evaluation will demoralize the employee and result in even worse performance. [See reasons 3 and 4.]
  8. The employee has miraculously improved performance two weeks before the rating is due ("The dead come to life!") and the manager feels that the employee has permanently rebounded. [This belief is almost always unjustified.]
  9. They are in a hurry and don't believe that they have sufficient time to give the employee's performance problems the thorough discussion they deserve. [See reasons 3 and 4.]
  10. They believe that upper management will not back them if they give an honest evaluation.


Anonymous said...

I agree with so many of your comments as a former manager and current employee.

As to the final entry, I recall having a very low perforimg report who I wrote an honest evaluation for. No question she was very nice, tried hard (in her way) and had personal issues to which I was sympathetic.

But I had 4 other people I supervised who exceeded her in effort and production. Because of the heavy and steady workflow, her lack of intellect and ability meant that she could only handle the easier tasks. That meant the rest of my staff had to haul a heavier load. I could not gibe those hard workers a break with a simple task to ease their load.

I had to share a finite amount of money for raises and believed that the people who were doing the work deserved the lion's share of the raise funds.

I was told by the head of administration to change the review. Because the woman was obviously over her head and had received no training from her predecessor manager, the low performance was not her fault. I had to provide this woman a "Meets Expectations" rating.

I certainly believe that hard work is worth some kind of raise. But when there are finite sums available, the better workers should receive much more as reward. Otherwise, they get the message that their contribution was not appreciated.

Thanks for the post.

Michael Wade said...

Thanks for the thoughtful post. The scenario that you described is a great example of how upper management can distort performance evaluations. The evaluation is supposed to be an accurate reflection of the person's performance. Whether or not the employee received training in the past could be noted, but that should not change the rating. There are many people who, due to various reasons beyond their control, may not achieve a Meets Standards but that does not mean they should be given one. A Meets Standards should be a real Meets Standards.

Anonymous said...

I recently found myself in a position where the previous supervisor had given everyone in the group the exact same "Exceeds expectations more than 75% of the time" rating. For me to give anyone less would hurt their careers, but I was determined to bring the rating system back to some sort of reality until My boss selected one of my employees over me for the permanent supervisor posaition.

Now if I rate the individual even a little lower than before it has to be because, in managements perception, I am bitter because I was beat out for the job. It would also make them look bad for their selection so they would never let it go forward that way.

Finding myself in this dilemma I couldn't rate the other 10 individuals I had to rate any less. It would be unfair to them. I can't find a win-win in any of this.

Michael Wade said...


The only solution - such as it is - that I could suggest would be to explain the usual rating scale in the body of the evaluation so a third party would understand the real meaning of the rating. That approach permits you to give a rating that is consistent with the organization's inflated system but also to note in your comments that such is the case and just what the rating truly means. That way, you are being accurate in your comments but are not punishing the person due to the nature of the system. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

you are being accurate in your comments but are not punishing the person due to the nature of the system. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

There's also such a thing as a bad review that's also inaccurate. I was given such a review not long ago. I work with a bunch of shirkers and I have picked up the slack ever since I started working there around a year ago. For all my hard work, I was rewarded with almost all "does not consistently meet expectations". What a joke!