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Four Lame Performance Management Excuses

by Marnie Green

You are a busy person. As a manager in a public agency you have budgets to balance, services to provide, and constituents to satisfy. There is always a meeting to attend or a deadline to meet. And while the day-to-day business of providing public services is always calling, there are also employees who are looking to you for direction, guidance, feedback, and recognition. And for some managers, employee performance is low on the list of priorities.

We have many reasons for avoiding our employee performance management duties. Usually the excuses are pretty lame. Here are four of the most common excuses for not managing employee performance and why they don't hold water.

Excuse #1: "I've been so busy with the budget that I just don't have time for one-on-one meetings with my employees."

As leaders we will always have competing demands for our attention. There is always something else to do instead of spending time with staff members. And when you are not giving your staff the guidance and support that they require, it may create even more demands for you. Give them your time and you'll have more time in the long run.

Excuse #2: "Employees know I value their work. I don't have to tell them every day."

Employees cannot read your mind. Even if you think your employees are effective, creative, or whatever word you use to describe their good work, they don't know it until you say it. Assuming they know what you think is the same as assuming your children know you love them. Thinking it is one thing; saying it makes it real.

Excuse #3: "I'm going to wait and see what happens. Maybe the performance issue will resolve itself."

Wishful thinking....especially when there is a problem. Employees deserve to know about your concerns as soon as possible so they can have a fair opportunity to address the issue and get on with life. When we hold off on giving hard-to-hear feedback, we are only prolonging the agony. Plus, when you delay you may have a bigger issue on your hands when it finally surfaces.

Excuse #4: "I give feedback during the annual performance review. Isn't that enough?"

Annual performance reviews have a bad reputation and are often less than productive because managers do exactly this. They save up all the feedback and then dump it on the employee at the prescribed time. No wonder we dread performance evaluations. Give feedback and guidance at regular intervals and the end of the year evaluation discussion will be painless.

As a manager, you have a duty to your organization, to your employees, and to yourself to actively manage the performance of your work group. It's easy to get distracted by the crisis du jour or to get enthralled by the latest project or challenge. Just remember that your primary job is to help your employees do the best job they can. That's job #1 and there's no excuse for not making it a top priority.

Marnie Green may be contacted at

Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Management Education Group, Inc. and is a leading expert in the management of public sector employees. Her book, Painless Performance Evaluations, is used worldwide by federal, state, and local government leaders. Contact Green at phone: 480-705-9394 email: web site:


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