For Every Action, There is Likely to be a Reaction


Janice’s manager said to her, “I appreciate your reporting the customer’s failure to comply with all safety rules.  But you should have insisted that he wear safety glasses and hearing protectors at all times.  If the customer failed to obey, you should have canceled the tour.  Consider this to be a verbal reprimand.  A copy goes in your file.”

Janice had been responsible for guiding a new customer through on a plant tour.  Although Janice had carefully explained all safety requirements prior to the tour, the customer consistently ignored some rules.  Janice did not think the customer was ever at risk.  Still, she repeatedly and politely nagged him to comply.

At one point, the customer became irritated and said, “This is silly.  I’m forty feet away from any moving parts.  These things are uncomfortable.”

Janice later commented to a friend that she feared she might offend the customer to the point of jeopardizing a potential high-dollar sale.

Managers described this incident in numerous meetings and promised consequences for all future failures.

Employees heard the message loud and clear.  However, over the next year employees reported in confidential interviews that customer violations continued and perhaps even increased.  Tour guides simply quit reporting what they thought were incidental violations.

 

 

How Appraisal Policies May Put Managers in a No-Win Situation


A very successful, but frustrated, manager reported to me, “During annual performance appraisals, we must have an improvement plan for low ratings.”   The manager further explained that he rated two employees low on the “quantity of work” scale.

“Did you develop a plan?” I asked.

“Yes, both had good attitudes.  I spent a lot of time with them and they did improve.”  The manager admitted the employees did not blossom into stars and probably never would.  Still, on the next appraisal, they earned “meets expectations.”

“Then what is your frustration?” I asked.

“When I submitted my appraisals, my manager said that my ratings were too high.  He said I needed at least some ratings that were “below expectations.”

“I think I see the cause of your frustration,” I responded.  “You are required to improve employees’ performances and, at the same time, your manager expects you to report lower ratings.  This seems like a no win situation.”

“That’s my point, exactly!”

Performance appraisal ratings create more frustration than a ref’s bad call you your star player in the final seconds of a game.  Why don’t we just do away with ratings?  Replace them with a brief listing of an employee’s achievements and areas of emphasis for the future.