Intimidation and Fear

February 18, 2013

Good morning to you! It’s supposed to be warmer today here in northeast Indiana, but it surely doesn’t feel like it right now.

Intimidation and fear! Not very warm and fuzzy words are they? Words that we obviously don’t want to describe the culture of our organization! But yet, we continue to do certain things that do cause intimidation and fear. One of the most common of these is the annual performance review and I cannot understand why we continue to do this to our people.get rid of the performance review

I have been a part of the US Army, worked at two Fortune 500 companies, worked in state government and in ministry over a 32 year period and I have yet to see annual performance reviews actually do anything about performance. I have seen them cause huge amounts of stress to both the employee and the supervisor, I have seen them manipulated to justify the pay scale that had already been decided for someone before their review, I have seen them continually inflated due to a supervisor’s discomfort with conflict, I have seen them used to justify letting someone go, and I have seen them used to shift the blame for a manager’s poor leadership of his team. I have seen all those things and more, the one thing I haven’t seen is an annual performance review actually help someone to improve their performance.

What I have seen improve a person’s performance is an ongoing dialogue between the person and their leader where expectations are clear, where resources and appropriate authority are provided to accomplish assigned tasks, where coaching for performance is ongoing, and where the leader realizes that their relationship with the employee is critical to the employee’s success. I have seen it work when the leader realizes that they often are the biggest impediment to their team’s success.

So, if you want to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, go online and download one of those checklist type of annual review forms and then sit in judgment of your employee’s performance for the year (when in reality, if you can remember how they did over the last six weeks you are doing well!) and then take no responsibility for your part in their success and failure.

Or, you could start evaluating, on a regular basis, your partnership with your team and how together you can become more effective. Then, maybe you will see less intimidation and fear while seeing more secure and productive team members. Do something radical that will actually make a difference – trash the annual review and go to ongoing coaching and see what happens.

Peace and grace to you today,
BG