Performance Review – The dumbest performance comment of 2013

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jan 29

In my position, I get to do performance reviews, provide input for performance reviews and also hear about performance reviews from my readers. Most of the reviews — regardless of rating — are good reviews. One can argue form, but usually the reviews are good.

And, then, some are not.

Sometimes, the comments on the performance review are, well, amazing – and not in a good way. Or highly inept. Or clueless.

In 2013, here’s the dumbest comment I heard about on a performance review. A manager said of the employee, “I’m rating you lower because you don’t ask for any extra work.”

Think about that for a minute. Let it sink in. Okay…are you starting to feel a slow burn? I mean, I heard about this performance review comment over a month ago and it still steams me. It’s just wrong on so many different levels.

Employees should not have to ask for work

The very first principle here is that the manager is the person that assigns tasks. Employees don’t go walking around the floor looking for work to do; they look to their manager to assign the work. Since a manager makes his or her business goals by the manager’s employees successfully working to achieve them, the manager should be assigning work to do.

It is not the employee’s role to go begging for work. In fact, if an employee is NOT being assigned work by the manager, it’s a great big signal that the employee’s job is on the line.

Managers who do not understand their employee’s workload aren’t effective managers

In this case, the manager expected the employees to come to the manager and ask for extra work. What, to look good? To enable the employee to work twenty hours of overtime a week…with no extra pay? Who in their right mind goes to a manager and tells them “I am putting in 40-hours a week, but, you know, it’s just not enough. I want to work 60-hours a week! Bring it on!”

Instead, the manager should be cognizant of the amount of work assigned to the employee and how well that employee can handle the workload. Sure, there are times when extra hours are necessary — and good employees put in the hours — but it isn’t a pre-requisite for a good review.

Does the employee hit the goals assigned by the manager? Is the employee producing business results that meet the manager’s goals? Can the employee be counted on to deliver his or her work so the team can meet their goals? That is what counts for an employee. Not whether or not you asked for extra work.

You didn’t ask for extra work? Seriously?

Symptomatic of poor management practice

I’ve been a manager for a way long time. I’ve also been an individual contributor for a way long time. And a consultant. I can tell you that when a manager dings an employee with a comment like this and takes money away on their performance review that one of two things is happening. Either the manager can’t figure out how to objectively measure performance but wants to ding the employee anyway; or, the manager is clueless about managing.

Or, perhaps, both.

In the past, this employee’s performance review ratings were stellar. A keeper. Then a different manager comes on board and now, all of a sudden, not asking for extra work translates into a poor performance review.

All it take is a different manager to derail your career and threaten your family’s financial security and income. It’s why employment security is such a valuable goal to achieve.

Manager’s should not be able to punish employees they don’t like because they don’t know how to manage. But it happens all the time.

What’s your worst performance review comment you have heard?

  • Pros says:

    There are many fancier variations on what you just wrote such as.

    “Be Proactive and ask for more responsibility”

    “Show more initiative”

    And after you get this feedback and start asking for more work

    The next time you get:
    “Needs to be more resourceful and not ask his manager what work to do”

    On the other side there is

    “Has good attitude”
    “Is a pleasure to work with”
    “Is a friendly person”

    None of these are measurable at all!

    Also the pattern that everything in the performance review happens to be related to work done in the last month before the review versus the whole year quarter etc..

    • Scot Herrick says:

      These are all good ones as well. This one hit me as the worst because it wasn’t about initiative or more responsibility, but literally “more work.” And, good point, not measurable either.

      Thanks for the comment!

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