Why team goals drag your performance review rating down

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Nov 20

We're heading into performance review season and it's time when we all do our self-reviews. The ones where we write the review for the manager and provide fodder for our manager to defend our rating in the calibration sessions

Did you notice when you hit the team goals that you had a hard time figuring out how you could get something better than an average rating?

It's true -- team goals push the manager to provide an average rating on the goal. After all, how many managers, even if they think they have a great team, are willing to provide an "exceeds" rating on a team goal?

There are reasons...

Not everyone on your team is great!

You know this, right? And it's not as if your coworkers are slackers or don't care. No, this is about performance and you know that some of your coworkers on your team are better than others. 

And when you get a mixture of okay-to-great, you end up with an average or slightly better than average team.

Translate that to your team goal and you end up with an average rating for that goal -- dragging your performance rating down.

It's hard to show how you contributed more to your team goal

Whether your team goal is internal (make the team better by...) or external (show how our team helped...), it's tough to show what specific actions or outputs materially helped the team reach the goal. After all, it's a team effort...

Plus, it feels icky to say "I'm the best contributor to the team goal and thus you should rate me higher than the rest of the team!" It's not exactly a "team" position to take, throwing your coworkers under the bus.

Am I right? Even if it's true?

So you're left with showing how you contributed to the goal not knowing if enough of the other people on your team showed how they contributed to the goal as well. And your manager then needs to weigh all of those contributions and then decide what the goal rating will be for the team.

It's pretty hard to justify an exceeds when everyone needs to contribute above average to the goal.

Why team goals drag your performance review rating down

It's the math

Depending on how many goals you have, your team goal -- or goals -- will drag down your performance rating simply by throwing that rating into the average overall rating. A 3+4+4=11 and 11/3=3.6. Average.

That assumes that every other goal you have is rated Exceeds (4). Maybe, but not usually.

Even if you don't get to a rating by doing an average -- perfectly okay for a manager to do -- the average on the team goal sticks out walking into those calibration sessions. Every additional average goal rating adds ammunition for that other manager to justify your performance rating is too high.

And the team goal contributed to that argument, dragging your performance rating down.