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Performance Evaluations and Why They Exist

Meeting with the Bob's- from the movie, Office Space

The Performance Evaluation is a mechanism to make people who couldn’t manage their way out of a paper bag, actually give the appearance that they’re managing. In other words, you would never need performance evaluations if managers understood the slightest, basic concepts of leadership.

A natural leader with innate management skills will automatically do the following:

1) Articulate a strategic vision
2) Let staff know exactly what is expected to achieve that vision
3) Offer feedback on the work staff is doing
4) Motivate staff by acknowledging success
5) Communicate regularly with staff to ensure everyone remains on the same page
6) Listen to suggestions to make the work flow better or even to change or alter the given goal

And this is precisely what most Performance Evaluation processes seek to get managers to do. If we just stopped hiring or promoting incompetent managers, we literally would not have a need for such things as performance evaluations.

Which brings me to Larry McCoy. Larry used to be a manager at a major broadcast organization many, many moons ago when I was first breaking into the network news business. Words to describe Larry include: irascible, blunt, candid, authentic, funny, gruff, kind and mean all at the same time- and one of the best newsmen to ever grace a newsroom.

I bring him up because, now that he is no longer a manager, he has penned one of the funniest pieces on this Performance Evaluation stuff that you will ever read. Here’s a taste:

I had just arrived in the newsroom for my shift as a copy editor when a manager came over to my desk and declared, “We need to discuss your goals.” I was 66 years old – past retirement age, damn near old enough to be his father – and he wants to discuss my “goals.”

“Go away,” I told him.

Several days later….

We met in the conference room with its breathtaking view of parking garages, and, while I was admiring the scene, Floyd handed me the damn thing and said my overall rating wasn’t just his opinion but the collective judgment of every manager in the unit. After only a glance at a couple of pages, I let him have it. My editorial skills got the highest possible marks, 5’s, but right below those was a 2 and the word “outbursts.” In the language of the Gods of Management, “Larry must control his outbursts.” Hello? If you “control” an “outburst,” it isn’t an “outburst.” It’s whining.

I beg you to please read the rest of this hilarious and rather profane screed. Kindly go here.

A further and enlightened take on the issue of Human Resource departments in general can be found in a wonderfully written piece which you can find here, called “The Wussification of the Workplace.”

For the record, I deeply respect many of the individuals I know who have worked in any Human Resources Department at every place I have ever held a job. In some cases, I have wanted to date them. But really, HR people only exist in the modern American workplace because most managers at most companies- just totally suck.

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