How do you handle telling your directs their annual review scores when the scores you gave were forcibly reduced by your boss in order to meet a quota and your directs know it and say so?
My company allows four scores:
* Not good enough: fix or be removed
* Did your job well
* Did more than your job sometimes
* Outstanding - goes above and beyond on everything
My company limits each director to a limited number of people who are allowed to receive scores above "does his job well." Several of my directs may regularly and in measurable ways exceed the performance expectations I placed on them at the beginning of the year.
* They deliver early
* The deliver more than I asked for
* They do things I didn't ask for that are wonderful
* They volunteer when I line everyone up and ask for someone to step forward for "the duty"
I might submit several with annual reviews set to "Did more than your job sometimes." My boss will then dispute these scores with me and ask for hard evidence. I will display that evidence, and then be told that some other department also needs to give their top performers higher scores, and I will be asked to pick which of my directs gets a higher score and give the rest the average score.
Thus, my directs work all year long knowing that no matter how hard they try, no matter what they do, they have only a 12% chance of getting anything other than the middle of the road score.
The scores determine pay raise levels.
Every year I face this, and every year I feel like a fail to address the frustration and anger that they vent at the company for taking performance they know was plenty for a higher score and reducing it to make artificial quotas to prevent bad managers from giving all of their people the highest score.
BTW, many people talk about their scores, and no one has ever received the highest rating, presumably because it consumes more headcount for the lower higher rating and limits the ability to hand it out even more, but I do not know that for a fact. We could just be finicky upstairs.
I've had one of my score suggestions reduced in the past because someone upstairs found one of my people abrasive on a couple of occasions despite obvious and massive results they produced. I know it is all about the relationships, but I prefer to use feedback to handle the one-off incident, not annual review ambush punishment.
Everyone knows how these scores work, and they know they are compared to one another and that no matter how well they perform against objectives, if they are not thought of as being as "strong" as Person A who is considered a top performer, they are not allowed to score on that person's level.
As a high D, it would make things easier for me if I had cold, hard cash to hand out at the end of the year as I saw fit to those directs that performed and was allowed to give rankings myself. Instead, I am tied to corporate performance, a departmental popularity contest, and a quota system all rolled into one dysfunctional system. This leaves me inspiring performance using positive feedback and praise alone. I really do bust my tail on the praise and positive feedback. It's all I have for all but the predetermined top-performer on my team every year that everyone knows will get the higher score.
Any suggestions for how to handle these conversations and adjust my behavior to compensate for their disappointment without making things worse are appreciated.