Low Rating Low Morale

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a new rating system:

I work in a place where the morale is the lowest it has been for at least two decades. Management has recently adopted a new evaluation system that basically down-rates most of employees to a middling (mediocre) rating for which the system basically allows no escape. (We are told that this is how good evaluation systems work and that most employees should be happy with a rating of 3 on a scale of 1-5 (2 means you lose your job)). Another element of this is that we are a very intelligent group of employees with advanced degrees.

My guess if that most people here would qualify for entry into MENSA, which as you probably know you must have an intelligent quotient in the top 2 percentiles to qualify. My question is how does a person with enough intelligence to score an IQ in the top percentile (as myself) deal with a workplace where the evaluation system labels him as perpetually mediocre and insists that this is appropriate?

Signed, Down-rated

Dear Down-rated:

Yours is an all too frequent concern of employees. We have heard this many times. Organization leaders use performance management and evaluation tools to improve/sustain/advance performance, justify compensation, motivate employees, etc. A wide array of performance tools and philosophies exist out there. Some are effective – some are not. Some are useful. Some are detrimental. Sometimes, even though leaders are well-intentioned, they unknowingly implement programs that hinder their motives. Because I do not know your organization or your performance management program, I cannot provide a definitive solution about your evaluation system, However, let me suggest the following:

Because of how you describe yourself, it sounds like you are capable of digesting the following book. Gilbert, Thomas F. Human Performance: Engineering Worthy Performance. 3rd ed. Silver Springs, Maryland: International Society for Performance Improvement, 1996, ISBN: 0-9616690-1-2. Most organization leaders will find this book challenging. But you should enjoy it. It is deep. Very deep. It is also exceptionally useful. I urge you; begin from the beginning, including the Preface, and read on. You must capture Tom Gilbert’s masterful wisdom progressively, as he sequenced it in this book. I could not put it down when I first read this book. I still can’t. I refer to it regularly – to get back to the basics. It will provide you with a foundation to understand what performance really is, and how to manage it, measure it and communicate it.

Gilbert is very matter-of-fact. No games. Nothing superficial. This book re-structured my entire approach as a consultant in the field of performance and training, after many years of experience. Let me caution you. As you read, don’t jump to conclusions prematurely. Let Gilbert develop his points as you progress on to other chapters. The first 105 pages set the concepts and basic applications. What follows is even better. I believe this book will equip you to answer your own questions about performance management and evaluation. It will enable you to formulate how to explain your own position on the what, why and how of performance planning and measurement.

Regardless of whether you read Gilbert, I wonder if your organization’s culture allows for a few of you to meet together with your management to discuss how the new evaluation system affects morale and performance. Because, I assume you have been there a number of years, I hope you and others can help management to accept that there is a problem with many employees. Next, ask for an opportunity to discuss why. Hear management’s position, too. See if you can come to an agreement on the problem before you proceed to ideas for a solution. I hope you will read Gilbert. I also would like to hear if you found the book helpful. Collaboratively, Guest Respondent LINKPOINT COLLABORATIVE PLANNING “Critical Performance: New Vision, New Paths” dgibson@linkpointplanning.com 330-343-3839 Office 330-260-7837 Cell

Don Gibson, Guest Respondent