IF: you've read “Ouch, that hurts - Part 1”
THEN: jump to END
ELSE: read “Ouch, that hurts - Part 1”
So now you know how the Perfection Game works. It's one of the Core Protocols. It could be called the Perfection Protocol, but that could be problematic because we are only human and as much as I would like to improve I'm not counting on getting to complete perfection. I'm such a slacker.
Besides, it really is fun as a game: Do something, Perfect it (Caps meaning Perfection Game steps), do it again, Perfect it, etc. Kids love it. I'm glad I'm a kid.
When I wasn't a kid, I had this very serious corporate manager job being a very serious corporate manager and eventually became a very serious corporate manager of very serious corporate managers. One of the duties of being a very serious corporate manager was to evaluate employee performance, following a very serious corporate policy and filling in very serious corporate forms describing and scoring all manner of employee performance and behaviours.
I'm sure you know what I'm referring to:
- describe the employee's performance over the previous period
- highlight job responsibilities done well, or requiring improvement, for all 99 job duties
- from the following exhaustive sets of descriptors, choose characteristics that best describe the employee's attributes, and those requiring more focus
- etc., etc.
- provide an overall summary score out of 5
All of this is, at best, a well intentioned effort to provide guidance to the manager and to standardize a process that ensures the employee gets some information on their performance in a scheduled, repetitive manner.
But, at worst, it becomes a way to find enough sugar to cover the medicine of enough negative concerns to keep the final score centered on a bell curve. If everyone is regularly at a 4 or 5 out of 5 then they are over performing in their job, ready for promotion, and candidates for salary increases (when there is merit increase money available.) And as a boss, you didn't do it right.
That becomes a mess.
It is stressful for the manager, stressful for the employee, each jockeying for position. Feedback becomes a negative experience even though it should include amplification information as well as dampening. The score keeping becomes a case of “1 aw-shit cancels out 10 attaboys”.
Alternatively, imagine how pleasant and useful the Perfection Game plays out:Boss:
"Continue doing this, stop doing that, add these things, and I'll be happy."
You: (Realizing the boss doesn't have his facts right, or missed some of your best moves)
"You didn't mention the amazing thing I did 6 months ago; do you still want more of that?
(Realizing the boss is asking for you to do something you are currently doing)
"I can certainly do that."
(Realizing that you don't understand what is wanted)
"Happy to give it my best shot; how would it look when I do it?" (Collecting requirements and a definition of “done”.)
As the boss, I don't have to wrestle my way through negative feedback, finding the right words, trying not to hurt feelings, struggling with cultural or maturity differences, etc., etc.
And if the employee follows all the Perfection Game steps and decides to ignore my suggestions, then I am already prepared for the next round - rinse and repeat - until one of you has had enough and you part company.
Now that you have read this far, here's some Perfection for You (provided as an example since you didn't actually ask for it):
- I like that you persisted, put up with my quirky humour, and got to this point
- For a 10, use the Comments area to note some employee performance examples for which the Perfection Game doesn't seem to work; and/or, when using the Perfection Game as your performance management method, a simple scheme to allocate merit increase money if it must be based on job performance.
(Back to your code window - I hear the boss coming!)