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Friday, January 10, 2014

Are You Meeting Expectations at Work and in Relationships?

 Chris Brady - I'm so excited for my annual performance review, today! Said no one, ever.

It’s performance review time in my corporate world.  If you have never experienced this process, this is a day of reckoning when your manager – depending how good he or she is – recognizes your contributions for the past year and gives constructive feedback on things you should keep doing or stop doing. 

At most companies, it starts with a self-evaluation. This is your chance to tell your side of the story. You promote the value your work provided the company. If you set stretch goals at the start of the year, it’s likely you didn’t nail them completely, so you need to give some indication that you weren’t watching cat videos all day.  You document your results and defend your performance.  At most companies, these are web based and archived, so you have a permanent record. (Remember what Sister Charles Bronson used to say about that?)

Then your manager goes gives his/her view of your work.  The form goes up to your manager’s manager, who either reads it and weighs in on things too, or rubber stamps the manager’s review.  

The process ends with a conversation with your manager. This can be a constructive or destructive experience, based on your relationship with your manager. (I have experienced mostly constructive conversations in my career, but I have been very strategic in hiring my managers.) 

In corporations, your review determines how much of a merit salary increase you will get, bonus or stock awards you get if you have that status, training and development eligibility, whether you are considered for promotions and ultimately, whether you keep your job when it’s time to reduce staff.

The process is meant to promote fairness and pay for performance, but you cannot escape the subjectivity of all the people involved.  Whether you like it or not, it does give both sides the chance to document and tell their story, and at least you know where you stand so that you can change your behaviors or change jobs. In the end, it’s two-way communication, imposed by a formal process.

I’m on the fence about how much difference this process makes in delivering better performance. I think most people want to do a good job, and mostly fail because of lack of resources or unreasonable expectations. I like that it forces managers to talk to their employees at least twice a year (once for goal setting and again for the review). 

How would this work at home?

I wonder if marriages would last longer (or end shorter) if couples went through a formal process like this each year, each partner setting relationship goals for him/herself and for the spouse on a piece of paper, discussing and approving them. Then you work on them intentionally throughout the year.  At year-end, each person goes through the self-rating and then rates the partner, and you have serious discussion about the marriage, preferably sitting on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean with an umbrella drink nearby.  
Is there an app for that? 

What do you think about performance reviews at work or in relationships?  Have you received constructive feedback that made you a better person? Or do you have horror stories to share about a clueless manager?  What about your performance in relationships? Do you talk about how things are, and ask for more?  Write on….


  1. Chris, I' recently trained new leaders how to manage performance and do performance evaluations and came across a stat that over 50% of performance problems are due to lack of feedback. I wonder if that stat holds true in marriages, too? carol

  2. Carol, I think maybe yes, that not giving feedback can be lethal to marriages. "The opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference." I don't know who said that, but it says a lot to me.

  3. I'm laughing at the imagined response of my husband if I proposed bi-annual marriage performance reviews. But I do believe that communication is the key to relationships - work and otherwise. So if it would help couples to put this on the calendar twice a year, why not? Thought I might change the name from "performance review" to "state of the marriage." Any other ideas for what we could call it?

  4. OMG! May I send this to my former employer? One of the reasons I hightailed it outta there was my review. Or, both of my reviews. Neither in writing. 30-day review, I walked on water. 90-day review, I couldn't even swim. When I asked for a written version of the humiliating encounter, my boss came back 2 weeks later with a generic job description. Having been an employer, I knew what a review should and shouldn't be and was insulted. hit a sore spot with this post. As for relationships, the success of the "review" would depend, as Julie aptly notes, on the communication between the parties. As for me, I usually end up doing exit interviews...