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When merger looms, focus on evaluations

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

HR professionals are often among the first to know that big organizational changes are on the way. If you learn about an upcoming merger, don’t spill the beans, but do diplomatically prod managers to complete all pending performance evaluations.

Chances are that if a merger does take place, any personnel changes will probably rely on those evaluations.

Having them ready and prepared before managers know how they will be used helps prove that eventual decisions about who stays and who goes were based on legitimate factors such as performance, and not on protected status.

Recent case: Winston Pearson, who is black, worked as an administrative assistant for Merrill Lynch and got an “average” rating on his most recent performance evaluation. When Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, executives decided to consolidate various offices near the facility where Pearson worked, retaining equal numbers of administrative assistants from both companies. Pear­­­­son didn’t make the cut because he was not among the top-performing assistants, based on his rating.

Pearson sued, alleging race and gender discrimination.

His case got nowhere because there was no evidence that either race or gender played a role in his underlying performance evaluation. It was a neutral, objective factor. (Pearson v. Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, No. 10-Civ-5119, SD NY, 2012)

Final note: Half of respondents to a recent HR Specialist online poll said they update job descriptions only when they need to fill a position. Don’t wait!

Performance-appraisal time is the perfect opportunity to up­­date job descriptions. Since managers and staffers are already focused on performance, they’re prepared to revise descriptions with the latest, most accurate information about the actual duties job holders do every day.

Tips: Ensure that descriptions reflect all essential job functions. HR should also confirm the accuracy of the employee’s exempt or nonexempt status.

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