A Familiar Performance Review

"Son, please come here, I need to talk to you."

"Sure Mom, what's up?"

"Well, as you know, around this time of year we do our annual performance reviews"

"Performance reviews? Are you kidding me?"

"No son, we take this very serious and believe that quality feedback is the key to a successful family."

"Uhh, okay, whatever."

"Well then, let's get started. We'll get in to the nitty-gritty in a minute, but having reviewed your last three hundred and sixty five days, we feel you're overall performance was 'met expectations'."

"Great, can I go?"

"I'm afraid not. We were really hoping you'd push yourself to be an 'exceeds expectations'. We need to talk about your 9-box."

"9-box... huh?"

"Yes, 9-box. It's a way we can grade your development. Now, your potential is good; we have it at a 'High'."

"Of course it is Mom, you don't want to tell your kid, 'Hey you have no potential' now do you?"

"No, we don't, and we really do believe you can do amazing things."

"Sure you do."

"Okay good! Since you agree on your potential, you'll have to concur with us in rating your performance as 'low'."


"Please let me explain. Last February you struck out twice during the baseball playoffs."

"Mom, that was almost a year ago."

"It was, and then two months later you failed a test in geometry."

"9 months ago!"

"And just recently, when I asked you to do the dishes, you said you were just too tired."

"What? When?"

"It was two months ago."

"Really? I don't remember that."

"Well, I wasn't there. It was your father who reported it to me. He was very upset at the time."

"You just said that you asked... and he never talked to me about this!"

"Please stay calm son. Your father didn't mention anything to you because he didn't want to upset you."

"So he went behind my back and talked to you about it? And I'm just now hearing about this?!"

"Please understand we're just trying to help you be a better asset to this family. I'll speak with your father and we'll have a meeting to see if we can improve upon the feedback process. We'll let you know the outcome."

"Uh huh."

"Okay, back to your performance. We feel that we're going to need to create a 'performance improvement plan' for you to get back on track."

"Are you kidding me?"

"No, and we really think this is the sort of thing that will really jump-start your career here!"

"You just said career."

"Did I?"


"Your performance improvement plan will include key deliverables and behaviors with a baseline that describes success."


"At the end of an agreed upon time frame, we'll rate the success or failure against the deliverables and behaviors. Meet the deliverables and you are off the Performance Improvement Plan! Easy, right?"


"However, if deliverables or behaviors are not met, the result could be a termination of kinship. If this situation sounds dire, you would be correct. Things are not good. We really believe in you though."

"Wait. Don't you think it would be better to figure out if I even wanted to play baseball? Or if anyone else failed that incredibly difficult test in Geometry with that incredibly difficult teacher? Why all this micro-management? How am I only now hearing about these issues?"

"We will give that consideration in the PiP. We'll schedule a meeting in one week where we show you how your performance needs to improve and when we need to see improvement by."

"Seriously, if baseball and the test and the dishes were so important, why did you wait until now to speak about it?!"

"We're very serious, and we're also serious that we think you can be a successful family member with the right management. We hope to provide a process that works for you."

"I don't want 'a process', I want you to be my mother!"

"That brings up my next item. We need to talk about your attitude at home. You see, your father doesn't think you smile the enough during dinner."


Parents would never talk to their kids this way, because parents care more about their family then they do about "performance" and "metrics". Their job is to make sure their kids get constant support, help and advice in their day-to-day lives. They know that if they provide the mentorship and time, it will result in a successful kid, no matter what path the kid takes.

As a manager/leader, which path do you take?

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