Gary Allison's Leadership Blog

Leadership and Teams13 Mar 2013 08:17 pm

Its that time of year again – time for performance appraisals. Sometime used for great good but mostly dreaded as a necessary evil. It should be a great opportunity for a review of how we did towards the goals set during the year. But, it often turns into something else.

Ever been forced ranked or had to have your performance reviews fit into a bell curve distribution so that most people are “Meets Expectations”? Since when is it ok to meet expectations? Is that the culture we as leaders should promoted and foster? When we hire people, do we expect them to surprise us with innovation, creative solutions, outside the box thinking, or to meet our expectations? If we hire the former, then why would we believe that the majority of performance evaluations should be “meets expectations”?

To me, this is encouraging a culture of mediocrity and mediocrity is the harbinger of failure for a technology company. I expect every review for every person on my team to have a conversation about how they took ownership, initiative, and delivered results beyond expectations. But, you say, your expectations then are necessarily too low. Perhaps that is one perspective. Or perhaps, we should always be hiring people smarter, more innovative, more skilled, and more creative than ourselves. Average is not acceptable and meeting expectations is not acceptable. Exceeding expectations in innovation, perspiration, teamwork, communication and ownership is the order of the day.

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