Dirty Bathrooms and Annual Reviews

by Ron Potter

Have you ever noticed that the dirtiest public bathrooms are the ones with the log pasted to the wall with the signature of the person who cleaned it and when? In fact, the log itself looks so nasty that I usually give it a wide berth for fear that something contagious might jump off the page and infect me.

Image Source: Anjana Samant, Creative Commons

Image Source: Anjana Samant, Creative Commons

Why is this so? This culture obviously has rules and regulations and a check list system for accountability and yet the place is filthy! But that’s exactly the point. Is your culture built on rules, regulations, guidelines, and check lists for accountability to make sure people are doing what they’re told? Or is your culture built on ingrained values like, “We want our customers to experience a cleaner bathroom than they would at home!”?

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many annual review processes work like that bathroom log. The annual review starts with the check list of goals that was created the previous year. Then we check to make sure the employee signed off on each item of the list and the date of accomplishment. There, goals accomplished, bathroom clean!

No discussions about innovative approaches they tried to take to make sure the bathroom stayed cleaner longer. No discussion about lessons learned from failed attempts at trying something new. No discussion about new approaches they are proud of that did work. No discussion about where they would like to apply some of their ideas elsewhere.

Are you really inspiring your employees with values and visions or are you expecting them to do their job and check off their list? How clean are your bathrooms?

Tell us some stories from both perspectives – leaders evaluating people with annual review processes or being the victim (sorry) recipient of an annual review process. What made it great? What made it suck?

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1 comment

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[…] when the doctor forgets to exhibit that good character to the staff, the patient actually suffers. The staff goes back to a checklist approach.  It’s clear that the overall care of the patient diminishes when the providing doctor doesn’t […]


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