Sunday, July 02, 2006

Professional Dilemma

The story has a happy ending. The project ended well. And all's well that ends well. Or is it?

Imagine you're a team-leader & while the team as a whole worked well & got the job done, two people didn't carry their own weight the way they should have. They procrastinated too much. They leant on others more than they should have. You kept having to cover for them. Say you warned them more than once & yet until the end of the project you saw no improvement.

Then the project ends well. Everyone celebrates. You include them in the letter of appreciation for the whole team & in the celebrations for the whole team.

Say then your manager asks you to do a performance-based assessment of each individual member of the team because he wants to give them a bonus by the end of the month. All bonuses in your company are calculated on the basis of performance.

What do you do? Do you say everyone was great so they'll all get the same bonus since they are after all a team? Or do you say how each person really performed knowing that the two mentioned above will probably get a smaller bonus or none at all & that they will hate you for this forever? Is that a mean thing to do to them after you told them well done along with everyone else & fed them celebratory chocolate cake? I mean they did do SOME work. They did contribute. It's just that others contributed a lot more.

Is it ethical to consider how this might later reflect on you? Given the fact that you don't work with the same team on every project & that these two might at some point in the future be assigned to someone else & then their weak performance might be noticed by others & THEN everyone will wonder why you were singing their praises?

What would you do?



Blogger Twosret said...

I would be honest and give them poor performance on their evaluation. Support it with facts and specific incidents and at end give a positive criticism and show how they could have done better and mark it as areas of improvement.

7/03/2006 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Safiya said...

Tell the truth, but in as constructive a manner as possible.

There's only a bonus at stake for them now, next time it could be their jobs.

Plus it is a good chance for you to demonstrate your managerial skills. This will not be the last time you will face this situation.

7/03/2006 01:41:00 AM  
Blogger Rambling Hal said...

I agree with both twosret and safiya. You have to do what feels right and fair to yourself. It's sort of a 'be cruel only to be kind' situation - you are highlighting a weakness and showing how it can be improved, which should be appreciated. This is also fair to the other members of the team who did work as hard as was expected of them - why should they do all the work and then be at an equal level to those members who did not pull their weight, right?

Plus you are neither being malicious nor vindictive - you're being fair and professional in your job. This is not personal. Otherwise you would have snubbed them, not thanked them, not fed them cake.

Performance evaluations are there for that reason - to evaluate a performance and see where it was lacking, and what should be highlighted in one's skills to be taken advantage of further. So don't hestitate, really.

Plus, if there is a chance of confidentiality, with regards to contents of the evluations and exact bonus amounts for each member, better and better.

And think of yourself. Would you want a bonus just for the sake of it, or really want to know how you are being perceived by your manager and/or team leader? Wouldn't you want to know whether or not your job is in jeaporday? If I was slacking off and thought my boss didn't notice or didn't care, then where is the incentive for me to get it together?

But what do I know?!?!? I guess I'm just in a lecturing mood this evening :)

Man i love your blog!

7/03/2006 01:58:00 AM  
Blogger Gilgamish said...

in life, especially in the real world, you gota take your FULL credit.

7/03/2006 07:02:00 AM  
Blogger programmer craig said...

I would evaluate the team honestly, as your manager asked you to do. That's part of YOUR job, and you yourself wouldn't be doing your job properly if you didn't.

But there are risks. Your manager may have favorites - or people he doesn't like very much. And if your review doesn't match his expectations, he may hold it against you. Also, employees talk, and the two people may find out what everyone else got, compared to what they got. They might quit. Or they might work harder (though I've never seen that, disgruntled employees always quit or get fired) or they might just say "screw office politics" and keep on going as they were before.

Merit based bonusses are an interesting concept. I've never seen bonus checks and stock options issued by merit, in real life. In the case of stock options, it can be a real bitch when somebody who is really moving mountains gets overlooked and some brown-noser who never wrote a line of code that he didn't steal from somebody else gets made independently wealthy. I once worked with a guy who was the lead developer on one of the companies biggest products - it made about 100 million a year in profit, and it was his baby - and not only did he not get any stock options, they gave hima trivial bonus. One of the smallest bonusses in the lab. Maybe they were trying to motivate him, or take him down a few notches, or something. Anyway, he sent out an e-mail bitching about his piddly bonus that was supposed to go to just his freinds, but instead got sent company wide. They had to fire him. They did it that day, in fact. He was out of the building before I'd even read the e-mail! And you know what? That product died within 6 months. Cost the company a bundle. But I'm betting they didn't learn anything from it. They never do.

Anyway. Do the right thing. That's your job :)

7/03/2006 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Nora said...

It's all been said by the other bloggers, but I just want to enforce it. Be honest. Give credit where it's due only. That's the fair thing to do.

7/03/2006 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger tooners said...

I also agree w/ what everyone has said... it's best to be honest. They may not be happy and get pissed because money is involved and pride, but in the end, you'll be happier that you were truthful. Plus, it's better for you w/ respect to moving up in the org. if you're straightforward.

7/03/2006 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Puppy said...

Firstly I would ask their previous team leader with whom they worked before about their performance at his/her project, but not that officially, in a way of casual question at the coffee area, or somehow u know. If he will say they were good, I will write them a positive performance as to the others.

The thing is that these people could have some personal/family problems that they couldn’t perform well, something was bothering them, so I wouldn’t judge them hard. If the project was for a long period and they performed bad during the whole period, I would call them to my office for a meeting, separately and tell them what I think ie that I see that in comperence with others they didn’t contribute much that they were warned but nothing changed per my opinion and I would like to know the reason. Will listen to them and based on what they say reasonable things or no, I will write an appraisal. By that I think they wont be surprised when having bonus less than the others, since they will know the reason, secondly u might learn something that were stopping them for performing and contributing well.

I used to write an appraisals in my previous job as an auditor for the 1 year (since I was promoted to senior) and was keeping usual concept of writing performance review, starting with good comments then telling the facts about something went wrong, and wrapping up with positive thing. To be honest I never wrote bad appraisals since I think most of people I worked with, even if they were doing mistakes, low contributing, bad communicational skills with the client, I saw that they were trying their best. Sometimes they were new hired and I was talking to “a bit bad performers” in not formal way, just to explain how to behave like professional and bringing examples. Actually that was to the people who like to learn and kinda understand that there is an area for development. To be honest i hate to evaluate someones work on paper.

To sum up, I wouldn’t write bad appraisal without knowing the reason of their bad performance.

Good luck

7/03/2006 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger FallenEssence said...

As previously said, the fair thing to do here is to evaluate everyone honestly. You congratulated them for the work and time they've put in but you can't sing their praises when evaluating them. That's not fair to the others, and they might hold grudges. You've given them how much theyve given you (3ala ad ma they gave you). Now it's time to give others what they deserve. You shouldn't feel any guilt here, you're only being fair!
Good luck!

7/03/2006 11:58:00 AM  
Blogger GC said...

A colleague of mine started a project to collect money for the office boys in our company. However, she didn't distribute the money evenly, she asked us all to evaluate the performance of the office boys according to six different criteria on a five point scale! At the beginning, I was very much against it since this was charity. But then, when I saw how the hard working people appreciated it so much and then how the lasy ones improved with time to catch up with the goo performers, I became convinced.

It was just a very clear case of performance appraisals that worked because they were done honestly.

7/03/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger LouLou said...

Thanks everyone. The vote seems overwhelmingly for honesty. I won't enjoy it at all but I will be honest. If only to be fair to those who did their best.

God I hope nothing like that comes my way again anytime soon.:(

7/03/2006 10:40:00 PM  
Blogger Alina said...

Well, Lou, it was a team celebration and a congrats letter for the team as a whole. It was ok to include them. But when it comes to individual evaluations, you can no longer see them as a team. And ask yourself these questions: would it be fair to the rest of the team? Why should those who worked get the same bonus as those who didn't? Even if they did not complain, I am sure they noticed and they would be disapointed if they ever found out there was no difference shown in your evaluation. Also, for the future, honesty at this point is better. What if next time, as they are now used to have things done in time by others, they become lazier and the next project is delayed?

7/04/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Herlock Sholmes said...

Honesty is always easier to preach than to do.

It is not always easy to speak badly (even if it is the truth) about colleagues. especially after you haev included them in the "thank you" letter after the presentation.

If I were you, I would speak about it to the Boss and let him know (not in writting) about your issues. Then follow HIS recommendentations. Never put these things in writting before talking to the Boss in person

7/04/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Insomniac said...

well, i've been visiting ur blog for some time and i really like it :) i won't suggest what you should do since everybody already did.. but i just had to say that u proved you are a typical Libra.. all that weighing and balancing of actions vs. consequences just screamed LIBRA.. knowing librans, i thought u'd be happy to hear that from a perfect stranger :)

7/05/2006 12:49:00 AM  
Blogger Twosret said...


The power of blogging eh? May I ask what happened to the Nurse "the other woman" did she get her bad review yet LOL

7/05/2006 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger Sean said...


I read this post two times.

I like it so much, please try to keep posting.

Let me introduce other material that may be good for our community.

Source: Performance appraisal examples

Best regards

12/12/2010 07:03:00 AM  

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