How to Deliver an Awful Evaluation

Warning:  Sarcasm and Satire Ahead

For all you bosses or aspiring bosses out there, giving annual evaluations is part of our job.  However, I’m sure we each approach this task differently.

So, I’m going to help you out here.  For all of you that like the easy path, believe that “less is more” when it comes to effort, and strive to disappoint and demoralize your direct reports, you’re in luck!  Because you’re about 50 words away from 25 tips on How to Deliver an Awful Evaluation.

Let me start by saying that doing all of the below will certainly get you the “Awful” ranking you desire. However, that’s a lot of effort.   So any combination of the following points should do the trick.

Let’s get started!

  1. Show up late.  What’s 10-15 minutes anyway?  It’s an exercise in patience.
  2. Don’t prepare….at all.  That’s a lot of effort….and your time is valuable.  Spend your prep time on more important things, like micro-managing.
  3. Base the annual eval on the last few weeks’ performance.  Hey!  The past is the past.  What’s important is right now!  You didn’t have time to capture all that other stuff anyway.
  4. Surprise them!  Grade them on things you’ve never told them about or give them scores they don’t expect.   Shhhhhh….your performance is a secret!
  5. Regurgitate their self-evaluation or a previous eval.  For those consistent performers, you shouldn’t have to do more than copy and paste.
  6. Don’t provide them their eval or any info ahead of time.  Why should they get to prepare?  You didn’t.
  7. Talk about yourself and make it all about you.  ….because it is, ALL about YOU!
  8. Talk about everything BUT their eval.  We can always get to it later.
  9. Yawn.  Nothing says “I’m interested in what you’re saying” more than you showing them your tonsils.
  10. Let them starve! – Who needs meat or substance in their eval?  Why should you give them anything actionable or constructive to work on anyway?
  11. Don’t provide specific examples of their behavior (good or bad).  Details, schmeetails.
  12. Gossip!  Talking about OTHER associates/employees performance shows them how much they can trust you.
  13. Be vague and try not to be too specific about expectations.  If they were really “that good” they’d be able to read your mind.
  14. Be insincere.  Callousness, coldness, and crassness show how much you really care about their development.
  15. Multi-task.  Check and respond to all emails and texts.  Maybe play a little Angry Birds too.
  16. Don’t allow them any time to talk or talk over them.  Why should they talk anyway?  This is YOUR time!
  17. Use the time to impress YOUR boss.  Show your boss how good you are by doing all of the things on this list.  They’ll be impressed!
  18. Yell and/or raise your voice.  A little intimidation always makes things go more smoothly.
  19. Roll your eyes.  This is an easy way to let them know what you think about what they’re saying.
  20. Cut them off.  Stopping them mid-sentence keeps the eval from going over the scheduled time.
  21. Read the eval to them…verbatim.   It’s not likely they know how to read anyway.
  22. Misspell things on their eval.   Thar’s no ned 2 spund tim on spalling.  Ur beeeng ufficnt wit ur tim.
  23. Conduct the eval in a public, distracting, noisy environment.  No better place to have a private conversation!
  24. Nod off.  Catching a few Zzzzz’s is okay – we’re only rehashing the past.

And my personal favorite.

25.  Lie.  You know, the opposite of being honest.  What does truth have to do with an eval? It’s all a matter of perspective.

As I’m sure you can tell, this list is not all inclusive.  There are many more things that you can do that will derail and erode your direct report’s confidence and trust in you.

Even better, once you deliver an eval in the manner prescribed above, your reputation will quickly precede you.  This means that any current or future direct reports (and their colleagues, and their colleagues,…) will know what to expect – which (as a disclaimer) – may ultimately help you free up a lot of time on your calendar.

Now, you’re all smart people.  If you weren’t, you wouldn’t be in the position that you’re trusted with.  So, I’m sure that you’ll use the above list wisely.

What else can you think of to deliver an awful eval?

Leading and Living with Integrity

Fortunately or unfortunately, it’s good to take advantage of current events to drive home a point. A great colleague of mine, Matt Martin, sent the below email out yesterday morning touching on the recent negative press around Arkansas Razorback’s Head Football Coach Bobby Petrino and used it as a learning opportunity. How bad was the press? I’ll put it this way. It was bad enough that it was trending nationally near the top of the list Thursday night on Twitter.

Integrity is foundational and critical to every leader’s success! Matt’s reminder about acting with integrity is not only appropriate today, but appropriate every day. Matt also forwarded a great piece by Michael Camp on Leading and Living with Integrity. Please see both below.

While Camp talks through a couple definitions of integrity below, one of my new favorites comes from Jeff Neria on my team. She says, “Integrity is the moral courage to make your actions consistent with your knowledge of right and wrong.

Above all as leaders it is important not only to act with integrity, but to teach the importance of integrity to others. Don Soderquist, one of the great former Wal-Mart leaders has said repeatedly, “Mentor your leaders; assume they know nothing about professionalism or integrity. Teach them before they fall and impact others.

Are you living and leading with Integrity? Do you teach the importance of integrity to others?

Matt’s note is below.  You can also follow him on Twitter @samsclubmatt.  Michael Camp’s piece on integrity is below that.

____

Team,

With the news around Bobby Petrino surfacing last night, I was reminded of the importance of integrity in leadership. I was also reminded of how quickly trust and credibility can crumble with one lapse of judgment. I was specifically reminded of a document that recently came across my email written from a peer on the Walmart side.

In the attachment (printed below) he talks about how we must protect and guard our integrity and compares it to an eggshell saying “Once an eggshell has even a slight crack, the structure can no longer be depended on to handle the pressure of the environment. It is simply a matter of time before the egg is completely compromised”.

Take a minute to read it and feel free to share with others. Our associates deserve to have leadership they can trust and respect every day and the attachment is a good reminder for us all.

____

LEADING AND LIVING WITH INTERITY

By Michael Camp

Someone can easily say they are ‘leading with integrity,’ but the challenge lies in actually following through. I believe the majority of us have been told the importance of being honest since we were children. Unfortunately, some people struggle more than others to live with integrity, no matter how many times they hear it.

What does the word integrity actually mean? Most of us could easily define the word integrity and have a pretty good idea of what that really looks like; or could we?

Integrity is not a characteristic you can demonstrate sometimes, or even 99% of the time. Leading with integrity means demonstrating it ALWAYS! Integrity can be defined most simply as “being honest” or “following moral and ethical principles.” Integrity has also been defined as being when “a person’s behavior is the same whether someone is watching them or not.”

I like to consider integrity to be like an eggshell that must be protected at all times in order to keep the egg (or your integrity) whole. Once an eggshell has even a slight crack, the structure can no longer be depended on to handle the pressure of the environment. It is simply a matter of time before the egg is completely compromised. A leader’s integrity (or eggshell) is the exact same thing. A leader can do the right thing 100 times, but on the 101st time, they choose to deviate from their behavior; therefore, their integrity comes under scrutiny from those around them. Even though we may live a life of integrity during the first 100 situations, if we choose to act incorrectly the 101st time, the way people perceive us can change forever.

If we want people to follow us there MUST be a strong level of trust. Keeping your word and living with integrity are two critical pieces to this process. Trust is not something built overnight; however, it can be lost instantly. The easiest way to come across as not being honest is when we say something but do something completely different. When people choose to follow us, they need to know the words coming out of our mouths are genuine and that we will not deviate from what we said we would do. Some people believe if they always handle the big issues with integrity, the little issues don’t always need to be handled the same way, especially if no one will know. This couldn’t be any further from the truth. A person who leads with integrity will ALWAYS keep their integrity untarnished and will not waiver, regardless of the size of the issue at hand or whether or not people will ever know what they did.

There is nothing worse than listening to someone speak about what they plan to do when we know their actions will not match what they said. This type of dishonest behavior is what usually creates the first crack in what I call the “TRUST FOUNDATION” that the leader – follower relationship is based on.

As a leader today, the challenge is for us to live the true lifestyle of a leader with integrity at work and outside of work. When people see us acting differently in public than we act in the workplace, our genuineness becomes questionable, as does our integrity. Show the people who choose to follow you what kind of leader you are by keeping your word and living with integrity ALWAYS.

I would ask you to take the LEADING AND LIVING WITH INTEGRITY pledge with me……

“This year I will commit to doing whatever it takes to:

Become a leader trusted by my co-workers, my family, my community,

Demonstrate outstanding servant leadership,

As I LEAD and LIVE WITH INTEGRITY to build trust with those whose lives I influence.”

“As Wal-Mart leaders we MUST live in a manner so that when our Associates think of honesty and integrity, they think of us.” – Michael Camp

When I Do Dumb Things

I am not perfect.

I’ve known this for quite a while.

I have no delusions that I am.

This means that I am going to make mistakes, just like everyone else.

My guess is that you aren’t perfect either.  If you are, you might as well stop reading now because you clearly don’t need any help.

For the rest of us, this means that we are going to make many mistakes in the course of our personal and professional life.  That’s just part of who we are.  What differentiates us from others though is how we deal with those mistakes.  Did we learn from them?  Did we figure out what to do differently?

Personally, I have a process that I go through when I do something dumb to make sure I don’t do it again.
But to make this entertaining, let me tell you about one of my recent dumb episodes.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to update several of our senior leaders on a project I am working on.  As time drew near, I ran from the printer, across the building, up a flight of stairs, and over to the meeting room.   I sat down in the lobby to wait my turn only to be told immediately, “you’re up”.  So I jumped up quickly (my first mistake) and walked in to the room.

I immediately began passing out copies of my PowerPoint, but noticed I was feeling a little light headed (clearly I stood up too quick).  I pushed through the feeling and began my update while walking to the front of the room.

As I approached the front of the room, I realized my light-headedness was becoming worse and I was struggling to catch my breath as I stood in front of my leadership.  I continued my presentation anyway (my second mistake).

At about a minute in, I started seeing black spots.  At this point, I knew that this was not going in a good direction.  While I typically like to stand and deliver, I said, “Just a second.” and grabbed the chair in front of me, sat down, and continued my presentation.  It got better – once I had oxygen.

Could you imagine what would have happened if I hadn’t sat down?  My career trajectory may have become flatter than me laying passed out on the floor.  Stories would be told for years around the water cooler about “that guy”.  I would be a legend…and not in a good way.

When I finished and left the room – I said a quick prayer of thanks for not passing out in front of the senior group and for being able to deliver the message.

I checked in with a couple of the attendees later and they said that they could tell something was up in the beginning, but that the update was fine.

I realized, though, that what I did was dumb and I only have myself to blame.  Was I as effective as I could have been?  No.  Was I distracting in the first few minutes with whatever behavior I was exhibiting? Perhaps.  Could it have been a lot worse?  Definitely!

So what did I do?  In the minutes following the meeting, I walked through my “Gee Jason, that was dumb – don’t do that again” process.

Here’s how it works.  I ask myself three simple questions – Why, What, and How:

  • Why did it occur?
  • What should I have done differently?
  • How will I ensure that I don’t do it again?

So, let’s take my episode as an example and walk through this.

WHY did it occur?  As I thought about it, it all began because I was rushing.  I shouldn’t have been because my presentation was done well ahead of time.  But I was in a hurry, waited until the last minute to go upstairs, and then ran to my meeting.  I sat down and stood up quickly, which made me light headed.  But instead of taking a moment for my head to clear, I pushed ahead – probably because I’m stubborn.

WHAT should I have done differently?  For starters, I should have printed my materials sooner (in the case that something delayed me).  I should have arrived at my meeting with such an important group well before the meeting started.  And I should have stopped at the first sign of trouble and taken a second to catch my breath.

HOW will I ensure that I don’t do it again?  Two things.  First, I will set a reminder to print my materials at least one hour prior to the update meetings.  Second, I will set a calendar planner to arrive at the meeting 15 minutes prior the start.  This should keep the whole episode from happening again.  It is important to be specific in determining your actions for next time.

This is a really quick process to run through and you can use the formula for a multitude of situations.  But the key is being resolved to ensure that you follow the actions you outlined in the HOW – or else you are doomed to repeat yourself.

Now, there is one possible additional step in some circumstances.  If you do something dumb and insult, upset, or disappoint someone – you should ask yourself this additional question, “How do I make it right?”  And then act on that quickly – as in – before the sun sets.

Now, in hindsight, my dumb episode is kind of comical, and I hope you found some humor in it.  But it’s only funny to tell because it had a relatively positive ending.  The important thing is that I learned something from it. And that you learn from the mistakes that you make.

So, how do you learn from your mistakes?  What process do you go through when you do dumb things?

Thanks for a Great 2011!

Thank you everyone for a great 2011!

This was the first year of the Leader’s Locker! And its been a great time!

After plenty of posts, thousands of views, tweets on Twitter, followers on Facebook, and links to LinkedIn – I can honestly say…we’re just getting started!  There are big plans in store for 2012 to help you be a more insightful, impactful, and audacious leader!

As a quick recap – the top 5 posts of the year were:

  1. Are You Wasting My Time?  – March
  2. Is That the Best You Can Do?  – July
  3. How Do They Describe You?  – July
  4. When a Great Leader Leaves  – April
  5. Calling an Audible  – November

Thank you for taking time to read and contribute to the Leader’s Locker!  I wish you successful leading in 2012!

Happy New Year!

~Jason

3 Reasons to Embrace Your Scars

I was rummaging through some business photos the other day, when my youngest child said, “Daddy, what’s wrong with your face?”

The photo she was referring to was my “professional head shot” photo for work.

As I looked at the photo, I realized what she was referring to.

When I took the photo, the photographer immediately uploaded it to his computer and started doing his “magic”.  He said, “It’s amazing what the camera can see.”  When I asked him what he meant, he said, “I can see where your skin is damaged.  I can see blemishes you didn’t know you had.”  When I responded with an intrigued (and somewhat concerned) look, he said, “Don’t worry.  I can fix them.”

Then I watched him work.  He smoothed some skin out here.  Removed a scar there.  Gave me a little color.  Fixed my collar line.  At the time, I thought, “How cool.  This must be how they do it in the movies and magazines.”

What I didn’t realize at the time was that he wasn’t really capturing me.  He created a version of me that looked, well….”plastic”.   And my little one was sharp enough to pick up on that.

I looked deeper at the photo.  I started to account for the scars that were missing in the photo – and what each one stood for.  One from falling out of a tree.  Two from chicken pox when I was a child.  One from an outpatient surgery.   And others…

Scars mean many things.  They remind us of our adventures, risks, and even some of the dumb things we did.  Sometimes they remind us of success, while other times they remind us of defeat.  Sometimes they are a reminder of a funny story.  And sometimes they tell the tale of a painful and tragic event.

Regardless, they are a part of who we are.  And from the funny to the tragic, they tell the story of where we’ve been.

Personally, I have found that embracing my scars is an important part of my well-being.  I am mentally healthier because I allow them to remind me of:

  • Life lessons.  Most of us can account for every scar on our bodies – we know what happened, how, and when.  We remember the lessons that we learned – and are keen about not repeating our mistakes.
  • Identity.  Not all scars showcase a mistake, sometimes they tell the tale of who we are.   When I was a younger man, I worked for a short time for a farmer.  Before he hired me, he asked me to show him my hands.   When I did so, he nodded in satisfaction and said I could work for him.  Confused, I asked for an explanation.  He said that my hands had nicks and scars and that showed him that I wasn’t afraid to work.  Scars showcase experience and tell a tale.
  • Survival.  Regardless of whether the scar was caused by a major tragedy or a minor folly, they remind us that even in the worst of times – we had the fortitude to survive.   We persevered.  We endured.  And that reminder gives us hope the next time we face a difficult situation.

As I reflect on my own scars, I think not only about the physical scars, but emotional and psychological scars as well.  All of these together represent many lessons of risk and reward; recklessness and consequence; tragedy and triumph.  And it is up to me – it is up to you – to determine how to view our own scars.

We can try to hide and forget our scars and let them bring us down when we catch a glimpse.  OR we can embrace them, remember the lessons, and live stronger and wiser because of them.

Personally, I choose the latter.  These scars are part of who I am.  Their experiences have molded and shaped me into the person I am today.  I am thankful for them.

I have since retired my “professional head shot” photo.  I’ll go back and take another at some point, but this time, I’ll have the photographer leave the scars there – to properly reflect the real me.

How do you view your own scars?

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