When I can’t sleep I usually find myself reaching for my iPhone or iPad to check email. Yeah, it’s a bad habit. Especially when it’s two or three in the morning. A quick email check can often times lead into me taking twenty minutes to write a “short” response.
Last night was one of those nights.
You see, when I have to get up far too early than any human should have to in the morning to catch a flight, my mental alarm clock keeps telling me it’s 5am starting around midnight and reminding me continuously every half-hour.
With iPad at my side, I did the check. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting to receive, but I figured there’s a good chance there’s one of my insomniac friends who may fire off a quick 2am “hello” so I should be ready.
The 2:07am insomniac turned out to be someone in corporate HR. “Jeeze, I feel special being emailed by a human resources person who can’t sleep,” I mumbled to myself hoping I wouldn’t wake the cat. It seems that this person, whom I never met, thought it would be nice to remind me that I didn’t do my self evaluation yet.
This is what HR people do when they can’t sleep?
When I sold Solid Cactus four years ago, shortly after the sale I got an email from a different HR person telling me I needed to do my self review so the beard I report to in corporate can go over it with me.
Now, those of you who know me, know that Joe and I ran every one of our businesses non-traditionally. We didn’t follow the strict rules of “How to Run A Business 101,” we made the rules up as we went along. If we screwed up, we screwed up. We just didn’t try to screw up again. If we did something right, I’d have a beer instead of a Coke at lunch.
Employee reviews are on my list of “Things I Hate About Big Business” right up there with companies that enforce a no shorts in summer policy. Self-reviews are even worse, they are on my “Things Companies Do to Employees to Piss Them Off” list.
So needless to say when I got that email four years ago, I wasn’t to thrilled. After all, it’s a self review. What warm blooded, living, breathing, human being is going to sit down and tell their boss that they suck at what they do? Unless you’re really into self deprecating behavior, you’re going to say you love what you do, you do an excellent job at doing it and just like your homemade lasagna, you’re five stars.
Suddenly, I had a revelation. Instead of sitting back and bitching about wasting 15 minutes of my life, I was going to have some fun with it. I was scheduled to be on a plane the next day, so I decided to write my self review in-flight. When the flight attendant graced me with a Jack and Coke, I whipped out my laptop and began to write.
The three pages of words sounded more like paragraphs taken out of a Harlequin novel about a sensuous character involved in a romantic relationship with himself. I proclaimed my self-love.
I submitted the self review.
I never got an acknowledgement it was received.
I never got a request for another.
Until this morning at 2:07am.
Four years later.
Now I’m sure I’m on some special list that is going to remind the HR person that I haven’t yet submitted my self review and I’m going to be pestered on a daily basis (hopefully not at 2:07am) until I do it.
I may whip out the one I did four years ago and just copy and paste, because frankly, nothing has changed. My opinion of myself and how I do my job hasn’t changed. Sure I have a flaw or two, but do I really want to tell some stranger in HR and the corporate beard I report to that I don’t play well with others and I need to improve on that?
They already know.
It’s in my file.
Along with a lot of other things, I’m sure.
Having employees spend time doing self reviews, in my opinion, is a complete waste of time and effort and is just an exercise in making HR people feel good and supervisors superior. I’m not alone in this thinking either. UCLA business professor Samuel Culbert calls them “dishonest and fraudulent” and even co-authored a book titled, Get Rid of the Performance Review!
I’m glad I found someone who shares my opinion of this dinosaur process left over from days when offices were filled with typewriters and secretaries were hired and fired based on how many words they can type a minute.
Today, businesses rely on performance reviews to keep the HR people busy and managers stressed out over getting their reviews in on time. Most companies who employ the performance review don’t even base raises on them, making them even more useless and inappropriate. They’re simply an exercise in old school business.
Any supervisor or manager worth their salt isn’t going to wait six months or a year to give their team members some coaching, a critique here and there, an attaboy, or a “we need to talk.” They should be doing this every day. All year long. If they’re not, they shouldn’t be on your management team.
You as a business owner or someone responsible for a group of employees should be evaluating your people on a continual basis, not just when someone in HR tells you it’s time. If you need to address an issue with an employee, you do it when it happens, not when it’s review time. If you need to compliment an employee on a job well done, again, you do it when it happens. This is common sense stuff that fosters a good work environment, productive employees and a good company morale.
I’ve launched, grown and sold off two highly successful companies with over 200 combined employees who were happy to come to work – even when times were tough – because they knew no matter what, they would be treated fairly. They knew they were working for a company that didn’t follow the traditional, often times outdated, means of doing business.
I still don’t follow tradition and I guess I never will. That’s just how I operate. And so far it’s worked.
I’ll keep pushing this self review nonsense off until one day that HR person, or even the beard, comes to me and says, “You need to fill that out or we’re pulling your expense account privileges.” I’ll then pontificate on how nonsensical these things are as I get a blank stare back or silence on the other end of the phone followed by, “Scott, just do it.”
If I do, I will definitely include a copy of Culbert’s book. And a recipe for my five star lasagna. I may not play well with others, but boy can I cook.