I supervise an employee who feels insulted if I say that his work has been satisfactory. I keep telling him that satisfactory is a good ranking and that I am very happy with how he does his job. It still bugs him because he thinks of himself as exceptional. He feels like a failure since he does not get the highest possible ranking. It has gotten to the point where his performance is starting to suffer. Do you have any tips for how I can give honest (satisfactory) rankings yet still convince my employee that he is doing fine work?
– Supervisor Sam
Dear Supervisor Sam:
Try this: “If you think you feel bad about a satisfactory ranking right now, think about how you’re going to feel when I give you a ‘needs to improve’. Snap out of it!”
– Evil Skippy
I agree with Evil Skippy’s sentiment, if not his specific recommendation. Try one last time to explain the meaning of “satisfactory” in the evaluation.
If it’s true, tell your employee that you expect exceptional performance and anyone who gives less than that will not get the official “satisfactory” ranking.
If it’s true, tell him that you rarely give rankings above “satisfactory”.
Next, tell him to banish his inner child from the workplace and to bring his inner adult to work instead. (Your actual words would be, “You need to accept what I have told you about my rankings and not show your displeasure by performing at a lower level. If you continue to provide less than satisfactory performance, I will begin a corrective action process.” You don’t need to mention any inner or outer children.)
In other words, continue to set clear expectations and then hold your employees accountable.