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Let’s spend a moment on all the unintended consequences of neglecting ongoing performance management or periodic formal reviews.  We’re dealing with human beings in a feedback vacuum.  Complicated.  Not that you mean to create any or all of these, but here is what usually happens.

  1. If there is no information available people will make up shit.  When it comes to their own performance the most common stories are titled “No news is good news” or “I’m okay but they’re not” or “I suck” or “My boss sucks”.  If none of these match your version of reality, have fun sorting this out.
  2. Everyone is treated the same therefore everyone’s performance must be equally good.  If there is no evidence that anyone is getting evaluated (sic. someone is fired or promoted) then everyone will assume that they are on the same playing field.  But Javier is seething because you know and he knows that he is kicking ass while others lag far behind.  Your superstars won’t stay if they are not getting nurtured so don’t be surprised when Javier hands in his letter of resignation.
  3. Conversely your underperformers are on easy street.  They are being allowed to coast along while the people around them are picking up the slack.  Your good soldiers are getting angrier by the day, the resentment towards the C and D players electrifies the air and you’ve created an atmosphere that will eventually cause damage.  And you will be held responsible for not managing the situation ages ago.
  4. You’ll end up with a team of good folks but no great ones.  You’ll get vanilla with lackluster results.  You won’t have cultivated high performance, you won’t have asked for more from your staff and they won’t have felt inclined to deliver more.  Why should they?  There is no pay-off for them.
  5. If it isn’t clear how to get feedback from you people will start acting out.  Remember your Psych 101 course?  Any reaction, even a negative one, is preferable to no reaction.  If a slight bit of mischief doesn’t get you to pay attention to someone, expect things to escalate until you reach a breaking point.  People will backstab or jockey for position or take credit for others’ work or use other political ploys to get you to finally say Good Girl.  But they’ll settle for Bad Girl.

At this point I hope that I’ve persuaded you to make it a priority to engage in ongoing conversations with your staff.  In the next entry let’s get down to the brass tacks of what it takes to manage performance and grow the talent on your team.  (PS. This will work with your need for feedback from your boss too.)

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