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How to evaluate ‘Joe Average’

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in Leaders & Managers,Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are relatively easy to do for outstanding performers. Ditto for those who need improvement. Your trouble is with Joe Average. He’s not a bad worker by any stretch, but you don’t think he’s ever performed at the level he could, and you know the purpose of a performance review is to lay out a plan for improving that performance.

Actually, experts say managers far too often give Joe Average higher ratings than he deserves—and then end up without much recourse when Joe turns out to be permanently average.

Ultimately, Joe cares about the tasks and not the goals. His personal objective is not to solve problems, expand his capacity or improve results. It is “to do his job.” Your antidote is to manage by objectives and for results and define expectations accordingly. How would your team benefit, if, for example, Joe worked smarter, got the same amount done in less time and spent the rest of his time building skills? Make the case for this kind of improvement, and then make it part of his improvement plan.

Instead of comparing Joe to your top performers, you end up comparing him to those who need improvement—and rewarding him for not being a problem. You do him—and yourself—no favor by appraising him on a scale defined not by objective performance standards, but purely in relation to his co-workers’ performance.

The performance review is to help Joe be the best he can be, not the best employee you’ll ever have.

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