Performance Reviews: Average Scores for Everyone

Question: Last summer, I got a job in the service industry working as a shift coach in a 24 hour operation. It was a new business and after my first training, I was put on graveyard shift. Management knows that I want to work either days or nights. I am a team player so I helped out while they were hiring new coaches and that they would move me to a better shift. They said I will make the move in March.

I recently got my results an evaluation from the people I supervise and I was blown away. They scored me very high and my manager told me that is one of the highest scores he has ever seen for a shift coach.

My manager recently gave me my six month performance review. He told me and the other coaches that everyone was getting an average performance score. Part of me says be a team player, the other part of me says, is this really fair? – Donna in Ohio

Answer:

To be honest, no it is not fair. Managers are paid to evaluate their employees and give candid and constructive feedback. Not every employee is going to be average and it sounds like your manager was taking the easy way out.

You’ve received a stellar evaluation from the people who work for you and yet your manager fails to take that in consideration despite acknowledging it.

Employees do not have to be perfect to receive an above average score. There will be things you have to work on to become better at being a coach.

Your manager should be comparing your contribution to the other coach’s contributions and decide who is above and below average otherwise the above average coaches will begin to distrust his judgment.  The message the non-performers receive is that they don’t have to improve or work hard to get by.

The tough part is how to discuss your opinion with your manager without causing a problem for yourself. In some organizations, you won’t be able to do it because the culture does not support open communication (so perhaps this article lands on their desk!). Let’s suppose your manager is open to discussing their decision. Here are two articles that might be helpful:

An assertive approach would be initiating a self-review of performance and meet with your manager to discuss it. You can outline why you believe your rating is above average. meet with your manager to discuss it. You can outline why you believe your rating is above average. You can ask that yourself evaluation be included in your employment documents.

In this approach, your manager may tell you where he agrees and disagrees with your self-evaluation. That’s a great starting point. You can now ask and define what it will take to move your rating from average to above average. Follow up the meeting with an email outlining what was discussed and communicated.

Or you can play the wait and see game for the yearly review to see how your manager handles rating his employees. If the manager says everyone is once again getting an average review, then it’s time to have a discussion with Human Resources about the performance review and ratings systems.