Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Performance Evaluations: Just a waste of time

It's just about that time for most professionals: the dreaded performance evaluation. The one that happens every quarter where you collaborate with the supervisor to evaluate how far you've come at work and how far you plan to go. It's a process no one in particular looks forward to, not the employee who is being evaluated nor the manager who must do the job. 

Evaluations are still around because apparently many still see the benefit of making workers anticipate what their higher-ups think of their progress. They are used to measure strengths and determine weaknesses in the hopes that all this will somehow help build careers and identify hidden talents. But do they really? Managers have been made to think they're doing their staff a favor. The truth is that performance evaluations are useless and here's why: 

- They're subject to interpretation. If you work for a good company that values feedback and input, then some value is derived from the process. On the other hand, if your results are just handed to you without a chance to defend yourself then you're screwed. Either way, it's pretty difficult at times to challenge a supervisor's views. Even if given the chance to defend your work ethics, the manager's words are binding. So you're screwed anyway, especially if your relationship with the supervisor is shaky. 

- Every employee knows evaluations benefit management. We assume different reasons because obviously management will never share why precisely we must endure them. Whether it's to show that management is engaged or to protect the company against a discrimination lawsuit, workers know this is all about them. 

- They don't necessarily reflect a professional's actual performance. Evaluations are used to reveal whether or not we are meeting management's expectations and, naturally, managers hold different assumptions of standard performance. Some are more forgiving than others and overlook a lot, others are irrational and overlook nothing. Still others just need a little praise to see your worthiness. Depending on what they value, all we're really doing is catering to their needs. 

I can go on another three paragraphs on the subject, but my point is clear: evaluations are carried out for the sake of management. We're just the compliant underlings who go along until we sit behind their desks someday and find ourselves judging our employees. If my analysis sounds harsh, it's supposed to be. But it's not management I'm criticizing, but the process itself. I have not met a manager who enjoys putting their workers in the hot seat, although I'm sure there are some who probably do, but the whole thing is really a waste of time. 

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