Most Confusing Review
What Supervisors Do Not Understand about Employee Reviews
As Peter wisely pointed out in the movie Office Space, “That's my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that, and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.”
Once you demoralize your employee their priorities go from “creating awe inspiring work” to “head down, don’t get fired until I find a new gig.” Tell me which thing you’d rather have your employee doing. If my raise depends on it, I’ll show you a million ways in which I “communicate effectively,” but if it doesn’t, I’ll just put up with your power trip and silently lose my respect for you.
Although you, as a Supervisor, might feel better about yourself post review, the employee will feel much worse about both of you. Let’s take an example from my last review. I could rate my creativity as Excellent, Meets Minimum Standards, Needs Improvement, or Just Kill Yourself (actually I forgot what the lowest rating is). If you use an employee review to try to convince me that my creativity is not excellent, merely passable, you have both deeply offended me and shown me that you are a big, mean dummy. Furthermore, if you use this opportunity to say, “think outside the box” it will almost certainly cause me to polish my CV. Every human being is creative. If your work environment praises bureaucracy, politics, and safe decisions it’s not your employees fault that they aren’t presenting you with wildly creative ideas, it’s yours.
The moment I present you (the supervisor) with a project that you feel isn’t creative, or doesn’t cover enough interdepartmental cooperation, that’s the time to bring it up. I’m sure I (or any employee) would be happy to give it another shot to attain the vision you had in mind. If you bring it up 11 months from now, it’s both irrelevant and asinine. One of my former supervisors called this type of immediate feedback a “Shit Sandwich.” Meaning you deliver the bad feedback in between two good pieces of feedback. For example, “Hey I love the colors on that website, hate the layout, but I think you’re headed in the right direction.” Ok, I can work with that.
How to do a not terrible Employee Review
1) Don’t save up every bad thing your employee has done and point it out now.
Everyone makes mistakes or misinterprets your vision, call them out on it immediately and move on.
2) Don’t shame your employee in front of anyone else.
If I have to explain this one to you, you might just be a terrible person.
3) Do point out exceptional projects to encourage more quality work.
If you tell me how great my work is, damn sure I’ll be trying to impress you more in the future!
4) Avoid clichés and buzz terms.
Ladder of assumptions, think outside the box, anything using the word “silos,” etc.
5) Make it a dialogue, not a monologue.
If it’s been 20 minutes since you’ve taken a breath, you’re doing it wrong, and you're THE WORST.
6) Expect the employee to disagree. Keep your cool.
As explained above, everyone thinks their own self is a fine piece of handsome work machinery. You can try to destroy that image so that they will obey you more, but this is unlikely to be effective.
7) Do use the review to improve minor defects.
If you have a complaint like, “I would prefer you answer my emails in a more timely fashion, I think we could work better together that way.“ Or, “Could you possibly spend less than 2 hours a day in the bathroom?” Or, “More collaboration with other departments would really strengthen your projects” now IS the time to do that.