Wednesday, 5 September 2012

When Excellence is Just Good Enough

True Story:  A friend tells me about his son, a student, having received his mid-summer performance review at his part time job.  He was marked "above expectations" on about half the categories, and "meets expectations" on the other half.  There was, apparently, a decided lack of specifics, so the student asks his reviewer,  "What do I need to do to be considered an excellent employee?"  

I Don't Grade Anyone "Excellent"
The answer is as surprising to hear in the new millennium as it was stupid back when it first crawled out from the Bog of Bad Management in the 80s.  "I don't mark anyone excellent because it demotivates.  You'd have no reason to keep trying."

OK, two things.  Actually three.

1.  That was a stupid thing to say.
2.  No it won't, no it won't, no it won't.  Exhibit A: Michael Phelps, who did not stop trying after he won his first gold medal.  My guess is that he kind of liked the feeling and wanted more of it.
3.  How about managers let their reports worry about their personal motivation and they worry about accurately assessing performance in a helpful, respectful and realistic manner?

Unless merely meeting expectations is their definition of excellence. 

It's my definition of a business about to die.

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