Employee Evaluation Systems

We have never seen a meaningful employee evaluation system. The abominations are generally designed as a tool to assess the performance of the employee with respect to corporate goals. When they present the illusion of quantification, the values are really qualitative and they will inflate over time as people are ‘soft’ about providing ‘real’ assessment. In essence, we can sit and watch a system corrupt itself.

What is the value of an evaluation system? If it is annual only, the value is minimal since employee corrections should be applied in real-time, not some months after the untoward event. Companies seem to believe that these systems somehow justify employee compensation increases. However, they really represent a lack of trust in both the employee and their managers, reflecting the belief that the managers will inflate the value of their employees—but this happens with every evaluation system anyhow.

Occasionally, we will see corrections applied with something resembling management by objective (MBO), which purports to make the targets obvious to the employee and which supposedly leads people to drive to corporate goals. The reality we have seen is that most of this folderol is impotent hand waving.

Although people may be driven by other concepts than money, we find it naïve to think the money and improvement recognition are not part of the equation. We should also be cognizant of the “good hair equals success” syndrome, wherein we see people promoted for superficial charms instead of meaningful contributions.

Finally, we should value those Cassandras who warn us of impending misfortune. Yes, some of them may see a catastrophe around every corner; however, in many cases we are listening to an employee who cares deeply about their company.

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