|She's Gotta Be a 10!
-- Ratings don't matter -- really!
I've talked about this, blogged about it, even written an article or two, but it comes up so frequently, I thought I'd mention it again.
I frequently -- FREQUENTLY -- am asked about performance reviews and their associated rating systems; how many, how defined, what descriptors to use, what if they don't fit some cosmically unique situation... you get the idea.
I always find this topic fascinating.
Write this down (or, since I'm so darned helpful, just cut and paste): In reality, there are only three performance results:
(a) Doesn't meet expectations,
(b) Meets expectations, or
(c) Exceeds expectations.
All other ratings, numbers, descriptions, phrases, and such are simply subterfuge. They are provided for comfort and conflict mitigation, not accuracy. More rating choices just enable poor performance management (which is what we're trying to do here, right?), in my mind.
Help managers learn how to manage performance first; reviews, then, merely memorialize performance conversations. Reviews, and all their glorious, tied-in-a-bow ratings and narratives, are the end of the performance management process, not the beginning. They simply serve as documentation.
The bigger issue is that many -- dare I say most -- managers are really poor at setting and managing to real, objective expectations. Hence the desire to always want "more" rating categories.
Without a plethora of numbers and adjectives, how can I possibly do justice to an employee who is...
"Pretty good" versus "Real good?"
"Good," but not "great?"
"Almost satisfactory" versus "Really bad?"
The answer? You don't do justice with the performance review; you do it with the process. And with your treatment (promotions, empowerment, authority, etc) with that employee. Compensation comes in here also.
Most of my clients have 3-point scales (see descriptions above). A couple have 5 points. I've worked with and for companies that had 10-point scales, and one -- no kidding -- had a 100-point scale.
100 points. How, in heaven's name, can you distinguish between a 92 and a 93??
Frankly, the ratings aren't the key to this process, so don't spend an inordinate amount of time here. Performance management, conversations, dialog, and setting expectations are keys, so there's the real focus.
Performance management is a relatively simple process. We tend to complicate it unnecessarily with sometimes-unwieldy performance reviews, so minimize those complications as much as possible.
Simple is always better.
But that's just me...