LEAPING into 2014…


We are in the midst of our annual performance evaluations at work (which we call LEAP as an acronym for leading excellence in performance).  Everyone from the C-level suite through the mailroom is expected (and required) to complete a self-assessment of their performance based on the performance goals that they (or their leadership) put into place the prior year.

Every year, I seem to gain a little better understanding of how this performance evaluation program can be used to create a clearer path to reach our individual and organizational goals.  My boss needs to have objectives that support his boss (the CEO)’s goals… the CEO needs to have objectives that supports the Board of Directors’ goals… the Board of Directors have objectives to support our Shareholders’ expectations .  In turn,  I need to support the goals of my boss… the folks who have a direct reporting to me need to support my goals… up and down the organizational chain it goes…

One thing that I find as a struggle is to find a consistent view of the ratings on the evaluation form.  We use five categories:

  • Doesn’t Meet
  •  Somewhat Meets
  • Meets
  • Somewhat Exceeds
  • Exceeds.

As a high performing department,  most of the people I work with are incredibly bright,  extremely dedicated and play full out each and every day.  So when it comes to rating performance,  it can be difficult to get others in alignment when  I use the term Meets when they have knocked many of our goals out of the park…

Trying to change the way we review “grading” and breaking the model that was set within many of us back in our grade school days (where a “C” was a meets and an “A” was a superstar) is not easy in our non-academic world of business.  The new paradigm is …

Meets is anA”

In today’s fast-paced and high expectation world,  we have raised the bar on what we view as meeting our expectations and goals.

I see a similar pattern going on in the academic area of our society.  Remember when going to college and walking out with a Bachelor’s degree would get your foot in the door and on the trajectory to having a successful career?   Now it seems that a B.A. or B.S. is a Meets in terms of educational background and the bar has been raised to having a Master’s degree to start (many times in an entry-level position within an organization).

As I am finishing up on my 2013 LEAP assessments and creating my 2014 LEAP objectives,  there are a few thoughts that I would like to share to hopefully help you as you move through the performance evaluation process…

  1. If you are responsible for providing feedback on someone’s performance appraisal… do not use the Cut and Paste method.  In other words,  keep your feedback customized and personal to the person you are providing the feedback on.  You may think that several of your staff may have gotten the same results but how they got there is most likely different and showcases their strengths (or where they need to develop their strengths).
  2. Do not rush through the process.  Take some time to shut your door,  turn off your phone ringer and pull up the “KUDOS file” that houses all the positive feedback received and/or results that you (or your employee) have obtained over the past year.
  3. If you do not have a KUDOS file… make one for yourself and your direct reports immediately. Then write yourself a Kudos to put in your Kudos file (acknowledging that you got the Kudos file(s) set up)!
  4. Focus on Strengths vs. weaknesses.  Developing our strengths is much more empowering and will yield better results for all concerned (e.g. engaged employees,  better financial results, and improved customer service).
  5. Meets = A = AWESOME.  Meeting high expectations is a fantastic outcome… began to re-frame how you look at being “graded”…

It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward.

~Old Chinese Proverb~

Do you believe the bar has been raised on what is “meeting expectations” in today’s academic and business environments?  Is that okay or has the pendulum swung too far?

What does your performance evaluation process look like?  Do people appreciate it or is it a “necessary evil” of our workplace?

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