I was recently talking to a young man in a local I.T. company who was lamenting how he was overlooked for a promotion. He had been with the company for a year, thought he was doing a good job, and fully expected to be promoted to a job at a higher pay level. He didn't get it. Somewhat miffed, he was considering jumping ship to look for another job elsewhere. In response, I asked him about the stability of the company and its future potential, which he admitted was good. I then asked what kind of assignments he had worked on over the last year and his success rate. Although he raved about his work effort, he admitted he had been late and over budget on some tasks, but was quick to proclaim, "I work my butt off in there; I put in 45 hours a week." I replied that managers are more interested in results, not necessarily the amount of time going into it. Frankly, 45 hours doesn't impress me and I told him so.
I guess it is not surprising to see an entitlement mentality evolve in the workplace. Young people learn this in school as they progress through grades annually. People now expect routine promotions and bonuses regardless if they earned it or not. They shouldn't. A bonus is just that, a bonus; a little extra for outstanding service. Sometimes you get it, sometimes you do not. However, if the company had a bad year, it may not be able to afford a bonus and, as such, employees should not become dependent on them.
A person is given a job promotion when an opportunity arises and an individual has demonstrated he/she possesses the skills and ability to assume the responsibility. Promotions should not be rewarded by guess or by golly (or by politics for that matter), but for demonstrated ability, a track-record if you will. Even in school, we cannot progress to the next level without adequate grades. This of course means the progress of an employee should be evaluated routinely. Although most major companies have this well defined, there are still a lot of companies who avoid evaluating their employees on a routine basis. I am always surprised when I see companies evaluating employees verbally as opposed to documenting it with a form, thereby making it impossible to accurately remember or track an employee's progress.
We have used an Employee Evaluation Form for a number of years and have always found it to be a useful means for developing a dialog between the employee and his superior. When it is time to evaluate an employee, we ask both the employee and his manager to prepare the form separately then compare the two side-by-side. This naturally results in an interesting discussion particularly when discrepancies occur. Whereas the employee may perceive his abilities one way, his superior may have an entirely different perspective. Bottom-line, the employee evaluation should be used to clear up such inconsistencies, plot both the strengths and weaknesses of the employee, and develop a plan to improve them. If you do not have a good Employee Evaluation Form, just drop me a line and I will e-mail you the one we use.
Without a defined process to evaluate the performance of employees, they will assume all is going well and therefore feel entitled to receive such things as bonuses and promotions. A constructive employee evaluation process improves communications between the employee and the boss, points the employee in the proper direction for improving his skills thereby making him a more productive and valuable worker, and shatters the problem of job entitlements. The employee has either earned the bonus or job promotion, or he hasn't.
Keep the Faith!
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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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