Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

July 1, 2014

Hard to believe

I received an article today that stated all 470 senior executives at the Veterans Administration Health Care System were rated on their performance reviews as “fully successful.” The article also stated the ratings were defended as being normal and comparable with other government agencies.

I have never met a manager who enjoyed doing performance reviews rating his direct reports. It is just not comfortable to give or receive negative ratings no matter how true or accurate they may be.

It was an absolute requirement where I worked that a current performance review be in the file of all salaried employees to be considered for salary increases or promotion. What I mean by current is the review could not exceed one year.

I found over the years that quite a few managers would use the “halo effect” when having to rate and review their folks. They had the misguided outlook that by rating everyone high they would be liked and did not have to face their direct reports with areas of strengths and areas where they could improve.

The “halo effect,” where everyone is a “saint” does nothing to improve performance and creates organizations of mediocre performance. If you are faced with the halo effect as a prevalent method of performance rating in your organization, you might want to try a method that reportedly Jack Welch made famous at General Electric called forced ranking.

If you have 10 direct reports, you are forced to rank them one through 10 and compensate them accordingly. Managers who have relied on the halo effect get sick when they have to do this. They can no longer hide and are forced to recognize their star performers and provide corrective counseling for the ones needing to improve performance. I am not a fan of Welch or his rank and yank method, but for a halo organization, it might help short term.

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