The Thing About The Refrigerator

Posted by amy.

Go to any workplace with a break room or a kitchen tucked away in the corner of the office. There, between the coffee canisters, the bucket of red licorice, and the salty snacks, is the big refrigerator. And taped there on the refrigerator door is a sign that says something like . . .




And Friday at 4:00 the refrigerator will be cleaned out and everything, save salad dressing, is, in fact, tossed. It’s a gross and rotten job but that act of cleaning the refrigerator is the one thing that all organizations can count on to be implemented, and implementation is what success is all about. A plan that is implemented is successful. A strategy that is executed is a success. A project that is completed is a success. The best implementation example in the organization is right there in front of us, hanging on the refrigerator. Okay, that is an easy one, but if we remember that simple lesson and use it as a metaphor, we will all be more successful.

Death to Performance Reviews – Again

Posted by Richard Moran.


The death of performance reviews may be highly exaggerated. When big organizations like Accenture proclaimed the elimination of performance reviews in that organization, a collective sigh of relief could be heard around the world. Yay! We thought there would be no more of the charade of managers trying to guess what we really contributed to the organization. No more stress, we thought, about the entire review process and whether or not we would be placed on double secret probation. The elimination of the review process was, we thought, the beginning of a sea change in employee engagement.

Alas, it was not to be. Like the game of Whac-a-Mole, performance reviews continue to pop up in some organizations. In other organizations, they never went away.

HR professionals roll their eyes at the thought of eliminating reviews. Reviews can protect the organization from litigation. Yet, most HR people I know dread the entire process. Butthead managers still hold onto reviews as a way to fire people and keep them worried about job security.  Analysts who understand bell curves continue to work on spreadsheets to determine who is contributing and who is not.  But cutting annual performance reviews out of the organizational psyche continues to make a ton of sense. It makes business sense and, why do something year after year that everyone hates?

The business case for killing performance reviews requires only back of the envelope analysis. It is called simple arithmetic. Take people’s salaries and come up with an hourly rate. Then, multiply the number of hours that the organization spends on the review process. The answer will be a reason to kill the process.  In many organizations, the time devoted to performance reviews shuts down the plant. Nothing happens while people wait to be evaluated at the expense of customers and others.

What is maybe more important than the business case is the logic and emotion associated with the review. Why continue a practice that no one likes, is seen as an annual ritual of pain, and may or may not be effective? A culture that continues to do things that no one wants to do is a culture that needs to ask hard questions like, “Why are we doing this?” If the answer is truthful the culture can change.   The annual review is a prime target.

This is not to say that feedback is not a good thing. We should all look for some sort of feedback every day. The best source of feedback is our own inner self. People generally know how they perform and what should be improved. Feedback is still critically important.

We should ask others for feedback too, but that doesn’t have to be in a formal review situation. The best feedback is usually in the hallway after a presentation or in the car on the way home from a sales call or after a meeting. Listen to that feedback and add your own inner analysis and you will be a better performer.

No matter the case, I know performance reviews are not dead. In most organizations they are very much alive and well so I have a suggestion. Instead of a painful process, every one should complete a 3×5 card with one question on it: How did you make this place better?

The answers might be a pleasant surprise to everyone.

Can We Trust H.R.? Can We Trust Anyone?

Posted by Richard Moran.


“You know you’re in trouble when you get called into the boss’s office and someone from H.R. is already there.”

“The only thing the H.R. people care about is diversity training.”

“The H.R. police were all at the sales kick-off meeting in Vegas. It was no fun.”

“Every memo from H.R. basically says NO! I am going to start calling everyone in H.R. Dr. No.”

Comments like these are real ones that I have heard recently regarding the Human Resource professional. The comments are not so good for the perception of the people who are there to create a thriving workplace.  In addition, the way the movies and TV shows portray the H.R. rep is always the clueless, goofy woman (always a woman) who is heard saying, “you know the ruuuuules!”

Now a recent article in TechCrunch by Danny Chrichton documents the rise and fall of H.R. people.

But before we throw the H.R. people under the bus, let’s look more closely at the role and the complexity the people in that role face.  First, it’s not just H.R. people. The Edelman Trust Barometer, has found that a majority of workers don’t trust their company’s leadership. Worse, less than a quarter believe that their CEO is ethical. As trust has declined, the role of H.R. has grown more complicated.

The employee manual always exists on the credenza or in the bottom drawer but surely does not cover all the issues of the workplace. Show me a manual with #metoo in it. Show me a manual that addresses playing hooky when the local team wins the championship. Yet, H.R. is the interpreter of all acceptable or not acceptable behaviors.

The big question that employees and H.R. wrestles with is: Is H.R. an advocate for employees and the builder of a healthy and happy culture or, are they there to keep the Company out of legal hot water? An effective H.R. person is probably both but, based on the surveys, employees are of the belief that H.R. is there to protect management. The result is that now people are turning to alternatives and not going to H.R. at all. Alternatives in the form of a bevy of apps now allow employees to protect themselves like never before. And lots of places, especially the world of small companies have not H.R. at all. The apps can really help.

Maybe we are asking too much of H.R. Maybe with the right set of tools and a management team that does the right thing and can be trusted, the perception will change. But the workplace continues to evolve quickly and only the best organizations and H.R. people will evolve with it.

Can we trust H.R.? The answer to the question should be yes and I hope it is in your workplace. Can we trust leadership? It would be a lot easier if some of them would stop doing stupid things.