Performance Evaluations are Like Flat Tires

Now I am Stuck.

Leaders are required to evaluate their employees’ performance, and usually the formal time for that is near the beginning of a new year. Most leaders don’t like to do performance evaluations. We all have our reasons, and those reasons seem to justify putting it off for another day. Maybe you think you are too busy with more “urgent” matters, maybe you dislike your company’s format for evaluations or maybe you’re just not sure where to start.

That performance evaluation on your to-do list is like getting a flat tire and then driving around on your spare instead of repairing the flat. Having one flat tire repaired takes only a few minutes and a few dollars, but when we put off that task, a second flat tire completely strands us and costs us much more.

Procrastination, however well justified, only leads to bigger problems later.

Performance Evaluations

The same thing happens to us when we delay holding those formal evaluations or put off much-needed discussions with those who work for us. We think somehow it will be easier or faster to deal with it another day. Or maybe, we hope it will magically go away over time.

Instead, just like a car with two flat tires, your entire team becomes paralyzed and can no longer perform. Performance problems left unchecked can deflate group morale and negatively impact the entire team’s achievement.

Remember, not doing the wrong thing is never as consequential as doing the right thing. Sometimes we get worried that we’re going to do something wrong, so we do nothing. Don’t sit on your hands. Take action! It will usually be better than doing nothing.

You may dislike or disagree with your company’s particular form of evaluation. However, there are many well-documented benefits of doing performance evaluations, so try not to get caught up in an imperfect format. Instead, focus on the substance of the evaluation and use it as a framework to guide your discussions with employees during their evaluations.

People have three basic needs at work:

  1. to be known by their leader;
  2. to know that their job matters to someone; and
  3. to know whether they do their job well. 

Performance evaluations are a critical piece of the equation. Shake off whatever is holding you back from having these important discussions with your employees.

Don’t Put it Off

I have heard it said, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can put off until the day after tomorrow.” While it may be funny, leaders cannot live their lives by that motto.

When we put off a small personnel problem, it’s like we are running on the spare tire. As those small issues add up, we take the risk that any little thing could tip the scale and turn the situation into a fiasco. When that day comes, we get frustrated and wonder how things became so bad. When we are running on the edge (or on that spare tire), we leave less room to do our jobs well. And later, the consequences will be far worse.

Good leaders address the small problems–especially the people problems–immediately, before they fester and paralyze the entire organization.

Leadership is about having the discipline to deal with people problems in the moment and the foresight to understand the negative consequences of putting it off for another day.

One of the highest callings of a leader is to do what is right and what is needed, not what is easy or convenient. People count on us leaders to address unacceptable behavior, mistakes and performance problems because they see it as a mark of our care for them as employees.

What are you waiting for? What are the people problems you are facing that you should deal with head-on today?

As leaders, our real work is the people work. Need a little help getting started? Take the best advice I have read lately from one of my favorite leadership developers. How the Best Leaders Prepare for Difficult Conversations by John Eades.

It’s only a flat tire, let’s not make it worse. Don’t delay. Fix it today!

Need additional help in what I call being “Mentally Present”?

Check out my book, “Must Be Present To Win.”

Perhaps somebody in your life needs to hear this message.

It can transform your effectiveness at home and at work.

Add my book to your reading list.