Performance Appraisal: Same Old Mistakes – No Development, No Honesty.

Sad, but True Story
There was once a bright graduate from Syracuse University who managed to find a 4 month internship in the down economy.  The internship in her field gave her base experience and introduced her to the level of professionalism and creativity that she had expected in her field. Though the internship was extended for 2 more months, she decided to take that full time job with a Name Company in her field in the midwest.

Imagine her disappointment to discover that her job required none of her education, none of her intern experience.  She was slotted to routine tasks.  At her annual review her supervisor was pleased with her performance.  Why?  Because she required no supervision and could perform her work independently.

Six months later, the SU grad took her degree and experience to New York where, after several months, she landed a job in a Small Company that was impressed with her Name Company experience.   Really?

At the annual review, her supervisor explained that he was disappointed with her performance.  He had assumed that she had acquired more experience and skills from the Name Company.  Panicked, she asked what she should do for she had no idea that she was not operating at the expected professional level.  He told not to worry that she could learn as she went along.

The following month, she was laid off.

After all the ink spilled and appraisal training, why are managers and supervisors making the same old mistakes?

It appears that the Name Company supervisor was glad to hand off routine work to ease her own responsibilities and get a job done.  Why not just hire a Hand? Hand =the nineteenth century name for employee.  Hands ran all those weaving machines and were easily replaced.  Motivation was never an issue.  There was always another hungry immigrant Hand to replace a sluffer.

The 21st century supervisor cannot waste employee skills and talents by ignoring the employees’ need for direction and motivation.  I think this is even more true of new job entrants.   And this is no surprise, given the complexity of the new job world they find themselves in!   Today’s jobs are filled with more discretionary tasks, challenging both thinking and experience.  Sure there are routine parts to any job – but failing to use talent and skills is robbing both the company and the employee.

I asked my daughter why her friend did not speak up and talk to her supervisor about the job.  The answer: she had lost her confidence.  At her internship she had managers who involved her in the projects, her Name Company supervisor simply assigned work.  They had no relationship.  Unfortunately, she carried her lost confidence to her New York job.

And, the Small Company manager waited until the annual review to give negative evaluations.  Worse, he lied and hid behind a layoff.    The 21st century manager cannot expect employees to meet performance needs by withholding feedback and training.    Worse, he can be responsible for poisoning their future aspirations.  While managers expect certain levels of performance, employees expect honesty and direction.     The workplace is more fluid in terms of organization structure and collaborative relationships.  New employees come with talents and expectations — most often leadership expectations.

In his Forbes blog, Glenn Llopis gives great advice for managers working with these new professionals:       Never marginalize your young professionals just because you have not taken the time to work with them to truly understand how they operate. Challenge them to perform unconventional tasks and you will quickly begin to recognize their performance capabilities, skills-sets and know-how.
(Found at:

Likewise, it is equally true that young professionals need to speak up and ask for feedback.  Make appointments – it they have to! – and talk about the job, their goals, their ideas.  Friending your supervisor on Facebook won’t cut it!  Face to face — time to really talk — establish rapport and relationship.  Old fashioined?  Naw – real world!

About mcgntr

About Ann I was lucky and grew up in the beautiful Berkshire Hills of Western Massachusetts surrounded by the arts, industry, literature, and family. I had a great education-- undergraduate work at Caldwell College and my masters at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where I began business life as Training Assistant. Returning east, I continued in the training profession, and ‘fell’ into Human Resources - first, Recruiting and Employment, Director of Human Resources and finally Senior Vice President, Human Resources and Training. I bowed out of the corporate world with the white collar layoffs in early ‘90s – and started a new venture McGill Enterprises: HelpQuick Human Resources Advisory & Training Services. I have enjoyed great opportunities - publishing 3 training books, mentoring HR professionals, creating a wide variety of training programs, writing scripts, and becoming an adjunct professor.
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