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Monday, June 23, 2014

Subpar Excellence

I really don’t like performance reviews. Some are worse than others. Most accomplish nothing. Think I have an opinion on this?

Back in my Air Force days, as an enlisted man I was given semi annual Airman Performance Reviews, known simply as APRs. The ratings started at “0” and went to “9” as I recall. Obviously, if you were at “9” in the six areas evaluated (plus the overall mark), you were a real winner.

Who could earn such a rating? Well…most everyone it seemed. You see, your next “stripe” was earned by competing with all the other enlisted people of your rank. Faster promotions meant an increase in pay, rank, and opportunity.

For a while, I worked in Military Personnel and one of my duties was serving in the department that sent out notices that these performance reviews were due. And then ensuring they were completed. So I saw the results.

It was silly. All these reports came back with MOST ratings at the very top. And the language used to praise what was likely just ordinary performance was just as silly.

In one of my more recent jobs, I had top ratings for showing up. Oh boy. But on a 1-5 scale, I never could seem to master most of my craft, according to my evaluators. And the reasoning on this was to keep us trying harder to excel. Really? What if you really ARE at the top of your game? I know I sure was good at showing up!

So imagine my non-surprise to see this item appear in the news: “Every Senior V.A. Executive Was Rated ‘Fully Successful’ or Better Over 4 Years”! ( Every one was great!! Except…they weren’t! As the Times article reveals, “None of the department’s senior executives received either of the two lowest of five possible job ratings, ‘minimally satisfactory’ or ‘unsatisfactory,’ in any of the past four fiscal years.”

Wowee, Mr Science! So all this stuff we’ve been hearing about our veterans waiting, like, FOREVER to get their medical care is because everyone was doing exactly the right thing? Scary. God help us in our inefficiency.

Reality tells us the truth. Many of these people WEREN’T doing their jobs very well. But like my Air Force days and my previous job, the ratings mechanism was a flop.

So should we not be evaluated for our work? Certainly we should. Every day. Not every six months or annually. If I’m not doing my job, tell me. If I am up to par, no need to speak, except for occasional praise. If I am doing a really good job, there are MANY ways to thank me and offer encouragement to keep it up. That is, if you want me to stay with your team.

Now the difficult question. How is your spiritual performance review? Are you good enough to make the next pay grade — as in, eternal reward? Would you be picked out of the group and given special honors?

God has set the standard very high. VERY high. You need to be…perfect. Even Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Got that? Be…perfect. Get all “9s.” Go ahead. Try. You won’t make it.

Fact is, I’ve already checked your records. You missed the mark. You failed. But you’re going to get promoted anyway. IF…you do one thing: trust in the One who IS perfect to help you advance. Jesus…paid it all.  All to Him I owe. (John 3:16)

In closing, I WOULD like to commend you for showing up every day. Very nice.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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