Performance Appraising a Contract – realizing your impact

Today I filled out a performance appraisal for one of our contractors. This isn’t my first post about performance appraisals.

There should be no surprises, right? Close-up of four business executives standing in a line and applauding

Day-to-day there should be discussions, feedback, issue resolution and course correction. Relationships should be in place and the ease of improving performance should just be part of the work day.

Yet, I always feel a bit of a twinge when I fill these out. Last year I found out that someone didn’t get quite the raise they were expecting because of my scores. This surprised me because the scores were very good. But, they weren’t all 100%. Who of us can even get 100% in environments where we are pulled in every direction? So, I gave out a few 90% scores in areas where we wanted some improvement when I’d given them 95% the year before.

Shame on me for not realizing that they were comparing year over year scores. The reality is that in between those time periods, the grading standards got tougher. Our contract administrators were being cracked down upon and were ensuring that we cracked down further on our contractors.

So, this puts me in a tough spot. It becomes more important than ever to write meaningful summaries explaining the scores. It becomes more important than ever to ensure the day-to-day implementation continually improves. It becomes more important than ever to clarify to those pouring over what I write how the changing environment impacts my scoring.

This year I gave a lot of high scores. It was a hard year. They stepped up to the challenge.

But, where do they go from here? Can I give 105% and 120% scores? It starts to be like the weighted scoring of high school GPAs. After a while, what is the different between a 4.0 and a 4.8? Seriously? Perhaps if they were entrepreneurs, this would mean far more customers, far more revenue, far more growth. But, they are not entrepreneurs working in our environment. We have a defined contract expectations and defined contract ceiling. In other words, there is a limit.

Is this all bogus?

It is feeling that way a bit already. At the end of the day, those scores matter for individuals progression within a system. I must acknowledge that fact. On the other hand, it makes it all the more important to realize that the scoring activities are completely separate from what we need to accomplish on a daily basis. How I interact each and every day matters. The little decisions about changing requirements, resolving concerns, dealing with interpersonal issues, etc. That all matters as we ultimately strive to please our customers.

So, I will continue to fill out the performance appraisals as part of the duties of living in an ecosystem that requires it. But, I will compartmentalize that in my mind so I can continue to march forward without limitation toward doing better work and expecting it from others.

Hmmm….have I become an odd mixture of cube farm hamster and vibrant intrapreneur?

Indeed.

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