Friday, June 15, 2007/
Performance appraisals are a thankless and fruitless burden, guaranteed to disappoint all but the paperweights in HR.
If your correspondent was an entrepreneur, and had invested his hard-earned cash in his business, there would be no way on God’s green earth that he would only discuss his employees’ performance on a bi-annual basis.
But he isn’t; and he hasn’t; so he will – unless he can avoid the thankless task altogether.
The task is thankless because one is virtually guaranteed to disappoint all comers. Our Learning and Development (or Learning & People, or Culture & Development, or Culture & People – or whatever title the Cane Toads from HR have chosen this month) policies make it mind-bendingly time consuming to deal with poor performance and impossible to adequately recognise good performance.
However much HR may blather on about a performance review being a two-way discussion that will result in a salary outcome that is balanced and fair, the reality is that the result was determined at least six weeks earlier via the bell-curve process that the same HR chaps manage.
No doubt there are some differences across employers, but in broad outline the bell curve mandates that no more than 10% of your staff may achieve the maximum increase, and at least 10% must be assigned the minimum increase.
Well and good in theory, but blindingly short-sighted in reality. In statistics, bell curves are used to describe “normal” populations. An effective performance management process should, by definition, skew the population – in which cases the bell curve will be less and less applicable.
Anyway, discussion of the stupidity of the system is pointless. My purpose today is to help you to manipulate it.
First, allocate the maximum increase to the unpleasant duds that you hope to foist on to some poor unsuspecting colleague. A glowing reference is now widely recognised as a sure-fire seal of disapproval.
The guaranteed way to get rid of someone is by telling the prospective employer “yes I will send you a copy of his/her most recent performance appraisal [showing the maximum increase thereby implying super-star status] but I’m telling you now that I will refuse to release him/her” [Don’t worry, you know that the paperweights from HR will insist that you do, their policies say they must].
Well that’s easy. Who gets the minimum? Now this is important. Don’t assign the minimum to any more staff than you are required to, otherwise you’ll appear to be a poor developer of your staff.
If you’ve been in the role for a little while, you’ll have had the chance to accumulate a collection of staff either on Workcover or about to go on maternity leave (incidentally, thereby enhancing your reputation as a family friendly compassionate boss). Give them the minimum – even if they did expect a pay rise – they won’t be there so you won’t have to listen to them whine.
If you don’t have pre-arranged victims, then line up the bright young ambitious types. With any luck they’ll become disillusioned and leave, minimising the possibility that you will become accidentally entangled in new ideas and initiatives.
All other staff: bung them in the middle. Good luck!
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