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Rant 🗣 Employee performance reviews

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,260
Points
35
Writing employee reviews. Yuck.

We do evaluations based on hire date. Both of my direct reports have spring start dates. So I'm juggling both of them right now. I hate this part.
Moderator note:

split from RTDNTOTO
 
Last edited by a moderator:

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,058
Points
49
Writing employee reviews. Yuck.

We do evaluations based on hire date. Both of my direct reports have spring start dates. So I'm juggling both of them right now. I hate this part.

Ours are all done around the end of December and then discussed the first few weeks of January. I have to do them for 11 department heads. It's a PITA for lots of reasons but if we have to do them I guess I'm glad we all do them at one time. I think it would be even worse to have them spread throughout the year.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
29,916
Points
73
Discussing employee reviews is generally considered as being uncomfortable for both the reviewer and reviewee. The Good Book, after all, explicitly says "judge not lest ye be judged." Even when there's nothing but praise to convey, there's still a bit of underlying apprehension from both parties involved. And if there's criticism involved....well, that just increases the tension.

I'm fortunate (by choice) not to be the one giving the reviews, but I recognize the challenge of the task for the supervisor. That's why I like to break the tension a little before it starts. One time I said something like "we're doing the performance review thing right now? Hang on, we should both take a moment to get into character....[change to serious facial expression and lower voice] okay, proceed." Boss laughed.
 

michaelskis

Cyburbian
Messages
20,814
Points
57
We have ours based on hire date as well. There has been a lot of discussion on these because raises are structured based on merit as reflected in the annual reviews. We also do a mid-year update. For the reviews that I have to do, I tell my staff that if there is something that surprises them at their reviews, I haven't done my job throughout the rest of the year, and that the annual review session is just that, reviewing everything that has happened over the past year. The other part of it is to structure the goals and objectives for the coming year.

When I started my current community, there were a few people who were taken back when they didn't get the maximum possible raise as that is the way it had always been done. One went as far as filing grievances despite still having a 'good' evaluation and received the comparable pay increase.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,058
Points
49
Because of how our system is structured we basically get two raises per year. One around annual review time (January) and then a COLA as part of the budget so an increase every July. What's not to like about that?
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
862
Points
33
I try to do them all at once, once a year. It's a big work effort. Not especially connected to pay raises, and rarely is there a promotional opportunity- so it's really just all a failsafe to catch someone who's falling behind. I've seen wheat happens when that stuff isn't in place and it's not pretty, so probably still worth it.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
15,422
Points
60
I try to do them all at once, once a year. It's a big work effort. Not especially connected to pay raises, and rarely is there a promotional opportunity- so it's really just all a failsafe to catch someone who's falling behind. I've seen wheat happens when that stuff isn't in place and it's not pretty, so probably still worth it.
This is pretty much our system too.
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,058
Points
49
We have merit increases tied to our reviews. I'm not in love with the whole merit system but I won't get into that. But honestly, if a supervisor is doing their job throughout the year there should be no surprises during a review.
 

Faust_Motel

Cyburbian
Messages
862
Points
33
Our increases are once a year, COLA and merit at the same time. But the merit increase is the same for everybody (basically just moving a "step" up the ladder) and not getting merit would basically be like getting an embossed invitation to retire/start looking for another job. My boss usually just asks me if I have done evals and if there are any issues.

How does everybody feel about COVID? Are yo going to give anybody a break/get a break because things have been so nuts for the last year?
 

MD Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,058
Points
49
Our merit based increases are based upon the points you achieve on your evaluation. In theory that could mean a 4% bump but that's with perfect scores in all 12 categories. I'm not aware of anyone achieving that. Across the City the average is 2.6%.
 

WSU MUP Student

Cyburbian
Messages
11,191
Points
52
Our reviews are supposed to be done annually within about 4-6 weeks of our hire date anniversary. Like MD Planner, we are generally eligible for two raises a year: a step raise after our anniversary and a COLA raise with the new budget in the fall.

That said, our merit rules limit us to 6 step raises in our position (it used to be 5 step raises but we recently had a massive salary survey conducted and it was changed to 6 this past winter) and once you've gotten that 6th raise, you're basically stuck until you can get a promotion (if and when that ever happens) or reclassification. Also, our merit rules make it very VERY difficult to deny somebody their step based raise even with terrible annual reviews and regardless of whether you get a sh!tty review or a glowing one, the raise is the same. Because of all that, once somebody reaches the top of their pay scale, the reviews sort of become a joke with the supervisor just giving us a glowing review and we sign off of it with no discussion. I am sure there are some supervisors who go through the whole rigmarole for all of their staff each year, but most just avoid it or seem to let their staff just write their own reviews.

FWIW, I'm not a supervisor so I don't write reviews but reading this thread makes me realize that if I were a supervisor, I'd want us to do reviews all at one time instead of spread out across the year. Spreading them out now just sounds a lot more tedious and inefficient.
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
Messages
6,040
Points
36
Posted this earlier this year.

--private sector: performance evaluation included a screed about "thou shalt not take university classes during the workday." When I questioned this, the pointy-haired boss explained, "well, some people do that."
In my performance evaluation.
Corporate monitored workstation use, and apparently someone noticed that I was researching continuing education options. I'd already decided that the course offerings wouldn't do me any good. Yeah, tuition reimbursement sounds like a nice perk.

O look, from 2016:
Throughout my career I was confronted with Old Pale Males tm telling me I was "unprofessional."
First municipal job: they "didn't like" my bicycle water bottle. (Concert black, matched my bike which I rode to work every day, as they were well aware.) And I noticed a direct correlation between the clothing I wore the week before a performance evaluation and the "score" on said document.
My last job: remote boss made me drive the five hours to his office to ream me over rumors and innuendo about how I "wasn't nice" to a long-time contractor (hello, I was hired to run the site acquisitions, and brought in new contractors who ran rings around the incumbents). That fool sat there, in his jeans and logo-ed sweatshirt, telling dress & jacket-wearing me that I wore "unprofessional" clothing. They continued that theme until I called HR on them.
Another time he pulled the same ¢r@p because I "wasn't asking enough questions" during conference calls. He didn't understand I had pre-calls, private ones, with said contractors. The company culture was to back someone into a corner and stomp on them, winning!
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,779
Points
46
I work at a large corporation and the employee appraisal process really runs the whole year long. It's supposed to cover the calendar year with the raise effective in March.

In January employees set our goals for the year based on guidelines provided by management. There is some leeway here; employees can write their goals to run however long they want. My boss suggested quarterly and yearly goals. That means that each quarter we have to check in and talk about how we're doing on our goals. Not only does each employee set their own goals but we also state how well we've achieved them.

I've never really liked that because I feel like it's my boss's job to tell me what to do and his job to tell me if he's happy with the job I'm doing. I think the feeling is that if the employee sets their own goals they have better buy-in.

The big, end-of-year reviews comes in October-November, so most of the fourth quarter doesn't even enter into it. Then after the holidays the bosses have to process all the reviews and determine the ratings, more or less "totem poling" employees in comparable positions/levels and then dividing up the raise pot accordingly.

In the last few years they've expanded who gets bonuses. At this point salaried employees above entry level are eligible for a bonus which comes as a lump sum as well as a raise. The bonus is based on the business unit's performance as a whole and then each each employee's performance.

I had a good year this year which resulted not only in a good raise and a maxed out bonus, but also something I didn't even know was a thing: A Long-Term Incentive. That's a larger bonus than the annual bonus, but if I leave the company before three years I don't get it. It's a big enough chunk of money that I may be able to pay off my mortgage with it.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,260
Points
35
I will say this about this year's process:

No one is exempt from the cap on merit increases this year, due to Covid. The cap is lower than the usual range, but at least we can still get something.
 

dw914er

Cyburbian
Messages
1,562
Points
21
Our reviews are annual based on date or employment or change of job title (re: promotion). Like other places, the increase in pay step corresponds to the review, and we are not required to provide the full increase.

Quite a few of my staff are at the top step, so the review isn't as valuable to them - I am of the mindset that the review should tell you everything you already know.
 

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
29,916
Points
73
I recall reading in several different management skills books that ideally a 'sit down at some predetermined regular interval and evaluate an employee's performance with them' shouldn't even be a thing. Ideally, feedback and interaction concerning an employee's work performance should be an ongoing and constant thing done throughout the week..."okay, I asked for numbers on X and you not only provided X but also provided a summary on Y. It was convenient being able to cross-reference the information. That's what I call anticipating needs....." or "I requested the numbers on X Monday, and you provided the numbers on Z instead. This was not what I requested. Please in the future provide what I ask for. If you have any questions on what that might entail, I'd much rather you ask than guess what I might have meant and lose time having to redo something...."

In practice, very few managers seem to possess the temperament or wherewithal to actually do this on a continual basis.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,779
Points
46
Oh, I think feedback happens on a continual basis (and our company even has a system for anyone to formally provide feedback to anyone else), but that's different from assessing the entire year's work of a given employee to determine what their raise for the year should be.

And in your negative feedback example, I've actually been told the opposite: If directions aren't clear, better to do what you think is required than to idle and wait for your supervisor to respond, the idea being that employees are being encouraged to show initiative and discernment so that in the future they need less direct supervision. Even if it's the answer to the wrong question, it could have been the right question so at least the employee had a chance of being right. It's kind of situation dependent though.
 

Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
7,449
Points
35
I actually like our system pretty well. In fact, it is part of why I've enjoyed my transition from city employee to consultant.

  1. Set goals. Each employee has short, medium and long-term goals. These are set in a collaborative process with the manager. Key financial indicator goals are also set (employee contribution to the bottom line... utilization rate, client satisfaction, negative variance, on-time projects, employee turnover, employee satisfaction, etc. based on applicability to the position).
  2. Feedback loop is continual. We subscribe to "if you never make mistakes, then you aren't trying very hard." We're all about communication, and it is open and honest. We don't sugarcoat in either direction, and it works well. I tell one of my planners "hey you need to step up your game on attention to detail--my quality control review on _________ was harder than it had to be." My planner tells me "hey I feel like I'm more in the dark than I should be on this project and it is causing unnecessary rework. Can you communicate more on client intentions or include me in a few more of those project manager level discussions?"
  3. We formalize a review annually, and that is tied back to the set goals. It is understood you won't meet all of them. It is all about trying to meet them, working well together, etc. We're a culture-obsessed firm. It is mostly a conversation about how we're all feeling, and then we check some boxes and go get a drink. Well, when it's not COVID.
  4. We have COLA, performance raises, performance bonuses and company performance bonuses (profit sharing). Lots of ways to financially reward good work. We can also apparently boost someone's personal leave as well if they value having some extra days off. I just learned about that one.
  5. Managers have access to a fund where we can send fun stuff to employees throughout the year for good work. Stuff like food orders, gift cards both for company store and other stuff, etc. I got in minor trouble for sending an employee a bottle of whiskey via Drizzly (apparently I'm not supposed to buy booze as a reward). It was mostly a "that was funny don't do it again please." Hey, I knew the employee loved a good bottle of whiskey! If we have a project come in significantly under budget, it can trigger project bonuses in a variety of forms. Same thing if we get a top-scoring client satisfaction survey.
 

terraplnr

Cyburbian
Messages
2,438
Points
30
I actually like our system pretty well. In fact, it is part of why I've enjoyed my transition from city employee to consultant.

  1. Set goals. Each employee has short, medium and long-term goals. These are set in a collaborative process with the manager. Key financial indicator goals are also set (employee contribution to the bottom line... utilization rate, client satisfaction, negative variance, on-time projects, employee turnover, employee satisfaction, etc. based on applicability to the position).
  2. Feedback loop is continual. We subscribe to "if you never make mistakes, then you aren't trying very hard." We're all about communication, and it is open and honest. We don't sugarcoat in either direction, and it works well. I tell one of my planners "hey you need to step up your game on attention to detail--my quality control review on _________ was harder than it had to be." My planner tells me "hey I feel like I'm more in the dark than I should be on this project and it is causing unnecessary rework. Can you communicate more on client intentions or include me in a few more of those project manager level discussions?"
  3. We formalize a review annually, and that is tied back to the set goals. It is understood you won't meet all of them. It is all about trying to meet them, working well together, etc. We're a culture-obsessed firm. It is mostly a conversation about how we're all feeling, and then we check some boxes and go get a drink. Well, when it's not COVID.
  4. We have COLA, performance raises, performance bonuses and company performance bonuses (profit sharing). Lots of ways to financially reward good work. We can also apparently boost someone's personal leave as well if they value having some extra days off. I just learned about that one.
  5. Managers have access to a fund where we can send fun stuff to employees throughout the year for good work. Stuff like food orders, gift cards both for company store and other stuff, etc. I got in minor trouble for sending an employee a bottle of whiskey via Drizzly (apparently I'm not supposed to buy booze as a reward). It was mostly a "that was funny don't do it again please." Hey, I knew the employee loved a good bottle of whiskey! If we have a project come in significantly under budget, it can trigger project bonuses in a variety of forms. Same thing if we get a top-scoring client satisfaction survey.
Please let me know if your company ever hires staff in California. :p I love the sound of all of this.
 

Salmissra

Cyburbian
Messages
6,260
Points
35
Communication - wish we had better where I am.

Also - the expectation that there will be mistakes. My supervisor is all about perfection. If it's always perfect, then what can you learn from the experience? She will rag on nit picky minor issues, and then ambush you with something else in a meeting.

I make sure to do a debrief with my team if something goes wrong. What happened? Why did that happen? You responded with XXX - what was wrong with that response? What might have been a better response? Or - meeting ran off the rails, you got it back on track by doing YYY - good job. Let's look at how to keep it from going off the rails again.

Learning how to handle mistakes is key in employee growth.
 

Doohickie

Cyburbian
Messages
3,779
Points
46
I actually like our system pretty well. In fact, it is part of why I've enjoyed my transition from city employee to consultant.

  1. Set goals. Each employee has short, medium and long-term goals. These are set in a collaborative process with the manager. Key financial indicator goals are also set (employee contribution to the bottom line... utilization rate, client satisfaction, negative variance, on-time projects, employee turnover, employee satisfaction, etc. based on applicability to the position).
  2. Feedback loop is continual. We subscribe to "if you never make mistakes, then you aren't trying very hard." We're all about communication, and it is open and honest. We don't sugarcoat in either direction, and it works well. I tell one of my planners "hey you need to step up your game on attention to detail--my quality control review on _________ was harder than it had to be." My planner tells me "hey I feel like I'm more in the dark than I should be on this project and it is causing unnecessary rework. Can you communicate more on client intentions or include me in a few more of those project manager level discussions?"
  3. We formalize a review annually, and that is tied back to the set goals. It is understood you won't meet all of them. It is all about trying to meet them, working well together, etc. We're a culture-obsessed firm. It is mostly a conversation about how we're all feeling, and then we check some boxes and go get a drink. Well, when it's not COVID.
  4. We have COLA, performance raises, performance bonuses and company performance bonuses (profit sharing). Lots of ways to financially reward good work. We can also apparently boost someone's personal leave as well if they value having some extra days off. I just learned about that one.
  5. Managers have access to a fund where we can send fun stuff to employees throughout the year for good work. Stuff like food orders, gift cards both for company store and other stuff, etc. I got in minor trouble for sending an employee a bottle of whiskey via Drizzly (apparently I'm not supposed to buy booze as a reward). It was mostly a "that was funny don't do it again please." Hey, I knew the employee loved a good bottle of whiskey! If we have a project come in significantly under budget, it can trigger project bonuses in a variety of forms. Same thing if we get a top-scoring client satisfaction survey.
Sounds similar to what I described at my company in Post 16, although we don't have COLA separate from the normal performance review process. I forgot to mention that yeah, we have small awards management can give out mid year. In fact anyone can give out an award, although the ones non-leaders give are just formalized thank yous and not monetary. However it helps to pile those up for your annual review to back up how well you've done on your goals.
 

RandomPlanner

Cyburbian
Messages
1,821
Points
28
I actually like our system pretty well. In fact, it is part of why I've enjoyed my transition from city employee to consultant.

  1. Set goals. Each employee has short, medium and long-term goals. These are set in a collaborative process with the manager. Key financial indicator goals are also set (employee contribution to the bottom line... utilization rate, client satisfaction, negative variance, on-time projects, employee turnover, employee satisfaction, etc. based on applicability to the position).
  2. Feedback loop is continual. We subscribe to "if you never make mistakes, then you aren't trying very hard." We're all about communication, and it is open and honest. We don't sugarcoat in either direction, and it works well. I tell one of my planners "hey you need to step up your game on attention to detail--my quality control review on _________ was harder than it had to be." My planner tells me "hey I feel like I'm more in the dark than I should be on this project and it is causing unnecessary rework. Can you communicate more on client intentions or include me in a few more of those project manager level discussions?"
  3. We formalize a review annually, and that is tied back to the set goals. It is understood you won't meet all of them. It is all about trying to meet them, working well together, etc. We're a culture-obsessed firm. It is mostly a conversation about how we're all feeling, and then we check some boxes and go get a drink. Well, when it's not COVID.
  4. We have COLA, performance raises, performance bonuses and company performance bonuses (profit sharing). Lots of ways to financially reward good work. We can also apparently boost someone's personal leave as well if they value having some extra days off. I just learned about that one.
  5. Managers have access to a fund where we can send fun stuff to employees throughout the year for good work. Stuff like food orders, gift cards both for company store and other stuff, etc. I got in minor trouble for sending an employee a bottle of whiskey via Drizzly (apparently I'm not supposed to buy booze as a reward). It was mostly a "that was funny don't do it again please." Hey, I knew the employee loved a good bottle of whiskey! If we have a project come in significantly under budget, it can trigger project bonuses in a variety of forms. Same thing if we get a top-scoring client satisfaction survey.
This is fantastic!

Someday, I will leave government work and look for a company with these values... some day...
 
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