This Week’s Focus Point
By Dr. Jason Carthen
As some of you know, we have readers from all over the world, but many of you may not know that our headquarters are based very close to Cleveland, Ohio. I share this with you today because this past Sunday was the debut of the much heralded and often maligned Johnny Manziel as the starter for the Cleveland Browns football team. The news coverage and expectation surrounding Manziel’s start is worthy of note, because it set the tempo for what I believe could be characterized as unrealistic expectations. This is a young man who is a rookie and had not started a single professional football game in the National Football League. His debut to say the least, was dismal if you listen to the commentators and sources from the media and around the league. However, I submit to you today, there are strong connections between what was witnessed on Sunday and what happens every day in organizations all over the world.
Unrealistic Expectations Caused by Employee Evaluations
It is the phenomena of unrealistic expectations caused by employee evaluations and objectives that are not in alignment with attainable goals. As I go into organizations both large and small to help with strategic planning, there is a common refrain of using the annual employee evaluation period as a time to groom and develop individuals to a higher level of productivity and performance, however, this is often a recipe for disaster if not handled correctly. Why, you might ask? Because it creates a very intense & stressful moment of scrutiny that should have been taking place the entire time.
Make a Decision which Will Have Long-Term Consequences
Ponder this for a moment…there is no other time in an organization that so much is riding on a single moment in time to make a decision which will have long-term consequences for both the leader and follower. In a recent Harvard Business School article by Tom DiDonato, the point was made that it is reprehensible to sit down once and a while to evaluate your followers and often invites disastrous results. Instead, frequent (I suggest monthly…) or quarterly times for discussions creates a culture of openness and inclusion which creates employee buy-in to their own success.
Leader’s Ability to Flex
Research suggests that a leader’s ability to flex and work with the follower along the way (Contingency Theory) causes the follower to respond more effectively as they go about their day to day activities and growing into their position. For this reason, it only makes sense to avoid creating unrealistic expectations for your followers and instead get into the trenches with them to frequently assess their areas for growth.
I’m sure Johnny Manziel wishes he could have back his performance from this past weekend, but something tells me with the right self-reflection, his level of maturity and the right coaching, his performance will keep getting better.
How does your organization handle performance evaluations?