October sees the launch of a new tool that, among other things, will run the back-end of our performance review system. This made me wonder about how we run performance reviews and whether or not the whole system works.
We know we have a 5 point scale and we know that 3 is not bad - you're doing a good job. We also know that managers must attain 60 management credits (in development classes) in order to be eligible for a review rating of 5. Our high performers get more rewards than our lower performers. Our lowest performers are actively encouraged to improve their performance with the full support of their manager. But how much of this is true? How much of this is actually the way the system works? In my experience it is the exceptions that show whether a system is working or not.
I know of several managers that never give a 5 rating regardless of how good the performance was. The reason each manager gives varies, but ultimately it comes down to these three reasons.
- Too much work for the manager
- Sets a difficult precedent / expectation for next year
- Their manager told them not too
These may all be valid or may not hold water, but they all exist and because they exist they inhibit the performance review system and create a process within a process.
If managers need to get 60 management credits in order to be eligible for a 5 rating why aren't managers taking every development class they can? Sure, I know some managers that prize their own development and that of their team, I also know some managers that never attend classes. Why is this? Perhaps some have been told by their manager that no-one gets a 5 rating and with that mentality why bother working to get 60 credits to be eligible for something that is unachievable? Perhaps it is because they have performed well and received a 5 rating without the credits. I know examples of both.
Again this is a situation outside of the process and it has the potential to devalue the process.
Everyone gets reviewed every year, don't they? Not quite. Certain groups don't always follow the review process because they don't believe it works for them. In some areas of Sales there are managers that manage through commission - if you do well you will be paid well, if you do OK you'll miss out on the big rewards and live to see another day, if you do a bad job you'll need to find another job. Where does a 2 or a 4 rating fit into this management model? Top sales people don't want the 5 rating, they want the big financial rewards and peer recognition when they join The Club.
What does this mean for those of us out there following the process and working hard for that 5 rating and actively managing our people? Is the system worthless? Shouldn't all managers be consistent and isn't that the role of HR to ensure they are or our leaders to set the example? I'm not sure what the answer is, I'd like to believe someone is reviewing our Performance Review System and making sure it drives the right kind of behavior. When my next review comes up, I'm going to ask my manager these questions.