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Behind One’s Back

September 22, 2012 3 comments

Most reasonable people think that “talking behind one’s back” is a dishonorable and disrespectful thing to do. But aren’t many corpo performance evaluation systems designed, perhaps inadvertently, to do just that?

In some so-called performance evaluation systems, an “authorized” evaluator (manager) talks to an evaluatee’s peers to get the “real scoop” on the behavior, oops, I mean the “performance” of the evaluatee. But can’t that be interpreted (by unreasonable people, of course) as a sanctioned form of talking behind one’s back?

In these ubiquitously pervasive and taken-for-granted performance evaluation systems, when the covert, behind-the-back, intelligence gathering is complete and an “objective” judgment is concocted, it’s bestowed upon the evaluatee at the yearly, formal, face-to-face get together.

Wouldn’t it be more open, transparent, and noble to require face-to-face, peer-to-peer reviews before the dreaded “sitdown” with Don Corleone? Even better, wouldn’t it be cool if the evaluatee was authorized by the head shed to evaluate the evaluator?

Mr. Corleone, just about every action you took last year slowed me down, dampened my intrinsic motivation, and delayed my progess. Hence, you sucked and you need to improve your performance over the next year.

But alas, hierarchies aren’t designed for equity. Besides, quid pro quo collaboration takes too much time and we all know time is money. Chop, chop, get back to work!

To make the situation more inequitable and more “undiscussable“, some orgs institute two performance evaluation systems: the formal one described above for the brain dead DICsters down in the bilge room; and the undocumented, unpublicized,  and supposedly unknown one for elite insiders.

If you work in an org that has a patronizing, behind-your-back performance evaluation system, don’t even think of broaching the subject to those who have the power to change the system. As Chris Argyris has stated many times, discussing undiscussables is undiscussable.

But wait! Snap out of that psychedelic funk you may have found yourself drifting into after reading the above blasphemy. Remember whose freakin’ blog you’re reading. It’s BD00’s blog – the self-proclaimed, mad, l’artiste.

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