Can My Boss Broadcast How We Are Rated?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about disclosing evaluations:

The company I’ve been employed at is struggling over some product quality evaluations from our company president. An executive singled out some managers to tell them how disappointed he was with their efforts. He went so far as to establish an effort rating. He then sent those personal ratings out via e-mail to the managers and the plant manager. Is this legal?

Signed, Don’t Like It

Dear┬áDon’t Like It:

Our site does not answer legal questions, but I don’t think your question is really legal. I imagine you are one of those managers who has been singled out and been given a less than stellar rating, and you don’t like that to have been announced any more that teenagers, whose grades are not Bs and As, would like to find them posted on hall walls. And you have a right to ask if this is legal, ethical, and good management practice.

The facts are that those in positions of authority can do performance appraisals, and, although in your and my opinion often ratings can be divisive and demoralizing, to the best of my knowledge, there is no law against that.So whether it is you or someone else whose ratings have been e-mailed to managers and the plant manager, the big question is: what would you recommend when a problem with quality has been spotted? Once you have thought through an answer to that question, you then have a second question to address:

What should you do about it; grouse about it with co-workers and family members, bite your tongue, or tell the executive why you disapprove of what he/she did? To complain about the process, however insulting and ill mannerly, is to miss what should be the focus of your workplace; delivering high quality products and service to internal and external customers. If you and you co-workers can focus on that with a passion, quality improvement will be the central topic of conversation in the office and production facilities. You and those to with whom you interact formally and informally will cluster in problem-solving skull sessions. You will see the concern of the company president and executive who took it upon himself/herself to rate and distribute ratings not just as destructive but also as an opportunity that spurs you to react creatively.

The fact is that problems with productivity and quality usually are problems in the system rather than caused by any one or several individuals.Quality should never be assigned to a quality control or quality assurance department; should it? Quality ought to be a central concern of each workplace employee. How many of you and your co-managers are dogged, passionate production system-minded detectives? Who is asking questions? Who is cheering each other on? Who is trying to make someone elses’ job easier? Who is thinking system-wide?

Once you and your displeased co-workers can get past your anger with the executive and move on to renewed persistence and excitement about making quality products, there will be plenty of time to establish principles and guidelines that are respectful about how ratings are made, if any, and what about grading managers and subordinates is motivating and demotivating. Do these thought make sense even though they do not give you evidence that the executive who did the ratings has committed a crime?Work is hard enough without being put down or carrying a grudge against those above who have done so. Sure usually what goes around comes around and sure pointing fingers comes back three fold. Tit for tat can escalate. Don’t allow yourself to be a part of that. Feel free to take or reject these thoughts. You are closest to the situation and will know what strikes you as wise or stupid. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that is something most workplaces could appreciate.

William Gorden