At some point in your middle-management career, you’ll be given the arduous task of keeping up with how your team is performing. I won’t sugar-coat it; this is one of the most distasteful, time-intensive tasks that upper management can rain down upon you. Piles of data have to be compiled. There’s a deadline. Plus, you actually have to speak with and get to know your employees, which really cuts into your lunch hour.
Perhaps you were under the impression that you’d been raised far enough above the teeming masses of subordinates so that you wouldn’t actually have to communicate with them. You are on the fast track to upper management! You have a standing date to play golf with the Second VP three weeks from now, given his schedule, weather permitting. This type of work is beneath you- literally!
Well, why should it be your responsibility to do the grunt work? That’s what your staff is for, right? Work smarter, not harder, my lazy protégés! This is an excellent opportunity to reach into your passive-aggressive, work-shirking toolbox and pull out the rusted, tetanus-encrusted monkey-wrench called the self-appraisal.
The self-appraisal is an amazing tool for all levels of management because it accomplishes several things all at once: a) you are no longer responsible for the work you’ve been assigned, b) the person upon which you are foisting the work is required to double their workload and provide you with accurate information about their performance. And for the average employee, there is nothing more difficult, more soul-crushing than having to answer the question, “How do you think you’re doing?” We all know we’re not allowed to say “Awesome; no need for improvement; add me to the board of directors.” That would be immodest. So we’re forced to attempt some kind of self-deprecating pseudo-compliment that doesn’t sound too self-aggrandizing but also doesn’t give our bosses any justification to fire us. Thanks, self-appraisal!
What’s the point? The point is this: when it comes to that horrible question, “How do you think you’re doing?” the answer is – no one really knows!
Sure, your subordinates may have some vague idea of success at work. For some of them, “at least I didn’t get fired today” is all they have left to strive for. Maybe some of them even feel the work they do on a daily basis is “good”. But how will they know what’s acceptable with no set standard to go by? That’s right- they won’t.
You get the extra-special added bonus of making your team go through the psychological anguish of describing why they are worthy of their positions, in painstaking detail, causing them to second-guess every action they’ve ever taken. And let’s be honest- there’s nothing quite like watching brows furrow, wrinkles form, and hair prematurely gray before your eyes as they make an attempt to be honest about the number of files they’ve completed last month.
Just keep sending out those reminder e-mails that appraisals are due at the end of the week. Oops, I meant COB Thursday. You’ll need time to staple everything together to give to your superiors before your three-hour lunch, won’t you? After all, middle-management isn’t as easy as it looks!
Jeff Havens is a professional speaker and author. Contact us today to learn how Jeff’s presentation “Uncrapify Your Life” can help your organization improve their customer service. http://jeffhavens.com/contact_jeffhavens.php