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I've been a supervising manager in several environments, and what I'm suggesting has worked for me when I had the following:

A) Fill out the forms for your team just one month after the last review with the "current state" of progress against the goals. The first month it takes awhile to fill in all the information, But it's all typing since there probably isn't much to report yet against full-year goals.

B) Every month, schedule some time to update all those reviews. As you will just be making incremental changes to what you already have based on only one mont's progress. And, you have all those emails and one-on-one forms from the month to refer to so this won't take long at all to do and do right. Doing this for a staff of 5 rarely took me more than one hour a month. Do it at a regulalry scheduled time you can block out in advance (i.e. 2:00 pm on the third Friday of each month).

When the end of the year comes and every other manager is sweating bullets to get their reviews done, you not only take just an hour or two to add your latest month's updates and put the finishing touches on the document, but then you get all that free time while your peers are doing their team's reviews to go do some of your pet project work while they are busy doing other things and NOT asking for your time. It's like a little vacation at work.

One hint: DO NOT get cocky and turn your reviews in to HR (or your boss, as the case may be) the day after you get the forms. No matter how much back-up you have and how many times you explain your system to them, they will insist you slapped something together in a hurry and will send it all back to you to do again. Sit on them for a few days, then send them in. If nothing else, it gives you a change to reflect to make sure your reviews are as well written as you would hope.

bflynn's picture

[quote="pneuhardt"]One hint: DO NOT get cocky and turn your reviews in to HR (or your boss, as the case may be) the day after you get the forms. No matter how much back-up you have and how many times you explain your system to them, they will insist you slapped something together in a hurry and will send it all back to you to do again. Sit on them for a few days, then send them in. If nothing else, it gives you a change to reflect to make sure your reviews are as well written as you would hope.[/quote]

I find that morbidly humorous. The expectation of what management will do is so low that they can't believe it when you are competent.

Brian

pneuhardt's picture

There does seem to be an inclination in corporate America HR departments (and I suspect in other countries as well) to assume mediocrity on the part of all parties and argue against any deviations from mediocrity. And, sadly, when that happens most people will live up (or down) to that expectation.

I was once told by HR that it was impossible and actually forbidden for me to have two "Exceptional" ratings on my team of 5 people since that didn't fit the corporate norm. Despite them failing my challenge of "show me the policy that says this is forbidden," I was told to lower a rating for one person, ESPECIALLY since I was recommending we terminate the one truly poor performer in the group and there was no way they could believe 2 exceptional performers on what would then be a staff of 4.

I literally had to carry the fight to the chairman of the board of a Fortune 500 company to get two good people a raise they deserved. Even then, I only got it because I was firing a bad performer and freeing up some cash. I left the company 4 months later (wonder why, huh?) and my successor didn't have the spine to fight for those people. The company lost both of them within a year of my departure.

AManagerTool's picture

We also work under the forced distribution mentality. It is extremely frustrating to be so detail minded on reviews and expect that your rating will count then have that rating changed because it didn't fit into a bell curve. People know about the system and then loose faith. I have had people tell me that they shouldn't try harder because they are locked into their current rating unless the high pots fall off the bell curve. That won't happen because the manager who put them at that high rating would loose his rating if his high pots lost ground. It's my job to argue against that logic....but it's hard to do.

DanStratton's picture

Us too. I had to write up an additional one page on each person I wanted to give the highest rating, on top of their review. It then had to be approved by the CIO (like he would know). If he said no, it was down the tubes. The way I saw it, their rating came down to my ability to write.

Todd G's picture

If this is the case, then why do they have this listed in the annual review? We have had this discussion numerous times. I believe the Excellent column is there for a purpose! If employee's truly meet and or exceed the criteria, then why not reward them for this? It only serves the company and the employee to remain focused on those areas to maintain that excellent rating, but then also gives them something to strive for as well in the other categories.

If you have to take this up to your Board of Directors, then I say you have a Director that just does not get it. The CIO should read about Blake & Mouton's Leadership Grid (1964). Then he might see the bigger picture if he want's his company to have increased productivity and employee's who feel as if they are "worthy" of being employed there. Granted, those employee's who do not meet the qualifications, get the coaching and final "boot" if they cannot meet the expectations. However, why would you belittle the employee's that exceed those expectations?