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September 2009

Your External Locus of Control is Driving Me Crazy....

Here's a common theme from the life of one HR pro.  How you view the world either reinforces my belief in the strength of the human condition, or it drives me crazy. 

What are the world views I'm talking about? You either get screwed or make sure you aren't screwed.  You'reIts-not-me a victim or you're a hero.

You've got an internal locus of control, or an external one - which means nothing is ever your fault.

How do HR pros know if you have an external locus of control?  Let me count the ways:

--You complained about your past boss when you interviewed...

--Shame on us for hiring you, because now you're complaining about your current boss, whom everyone else seems to tolerate fine (who saw that one coming?)

--You couldn't reach your goals because of a bunch of external stuff out of your control...

--Your life, when you choose to share, could easily be titled "victim nation" if it was made into a mini-series.

Let's face it, the players in your organization have an internal locus of control.  They know that they're responsible for their results.  The other folks?  Most have varying stages of the ole' external locus of control.  Factors outside of their control conspired for the poor results. 

Here's more on the locus factor from BusinessWeek:

"There are two kinds of employees. Some believe they can make things happen, and the others believe that things happen to them. The first group believes that the outcome of their life and career is more or less in their own hands, and they wouldn't have it any other way. The other group takes more of a Forrest Gump approach: They sit around and wait for a bus to take them somewhere.

This distinguishing feature is captured by something called a "core self-evaluation." After more than a decade of research, psychologist Tim Judge has discovered that virtually all superstar employees—from rainmakers in the field to line workers on the floor all the way to big guns in the boardroom—have one thing in common: a high core self-evaluation. Judge describes core self-evaulation as "a person's fundamental bottom line evaluation of their abilities."

Judge and his colleagues have shown overwhelmingly that employees who feel like they control the events in their lives more than events control them and generally believe that they can make things turn out in their favor end up doing better on nearly every important measure of work performance. They sell more than other employees do. They give better customer service. They adjust better to foreign assignments. They are more motivated. They bring in an average of 50% to 150% more annual income than people who feel less control over the fate of their careers. Not surprisingly, these employees also like their jobs a lot more than the Gumps do.

By now, you're likely agreeing with the premise and even identifying people in your life who fit the model described above - hopefully you're even thinking about what tools are out there to help you figure out who in your organization is the anti-victim.

I thought you'd never ask.  To identify these stars who can take charge, you can use Judge's simple 12-question "Core Self-Evaluations Scale." (You can learn more about the scale and download it for free on Tim Judge's Web site.).  It's free - and I don't know Judge - I just dig the tool and believe in the power of the external locus of control...

How do you use what you find?  I've got some ideas, but I'll leave that up to you...

Dude, I'm Digital, But You Can't Ask Me to Only Use Email to Communicate With You...

Note from the Capitalist: I've got other posts ready to go, but the concept of hiring probability is on my mind today in a big way.  Take a read if you didn't see this last year and weigh in on the comments.  How you interview, how you make offers, what you say - it all contributes to something I like to call "Hiring Probability"...

We have a little game I like to play in our department.  It's called "hiring probability"...  It's like Liar's Poker, but no money changes hands...

There's talk about candidates all day, every day in our department.  Whether it's an initial phone screen, aPoker round of face-to-face interviews or even just a resume submittal, I have one question for myself and my peeps when it comes to the prospects of hiring the candidate in question - what's the probability?

Hiring probability is defined as the probability that you will get an accepted offer from the candidate and they'll start work for your company.  You can throw out a probability number when you see a resume for the first time, when you have a signed offer, and everything in between.  Is it 10%, 45%, 95%?  Only the shadow knows...

So, here's a scenario I'm currently working through.  Play the game and guess the probability we are actually going to sign the talent in question:

-Position - Sales Pro, good opportunity to earn with a company in a position of market leadership.

-Me - Found candidate with the background, great phone screen and ongoing conversations

-Hiring Managers and Next Level Influencers - love the candidate in person and on the phone.  Prepared to make offer.

-Confounding Variable - Competitive situation.  Other software providers (not competitors) like the talent too, and are circling.

-Commitment - We make verbal offer, and follow up with the details in writing.  Great offer, no comp issues.

-Confounding Variable #2 - The candidate responds positively to the offer, but then goes "off the voice grid", and doesn't return calls.  Oddly enough, returns emails though. 

-Confounding Variable #3 - Candidate "kind of" accepts offer, sending background workup back and saying that they have to work through a couple of issues before they can sign the offer letter, but they'll be ready to go on 1/5.  Also says that they'll be on an early Christmas break over the next week, and they can only be reached via email.

-Me - Since the candidate won't return my calls, I politely ask (via email) for commitment via signed offer letter, citing time line, other candidates, etc.  Offer to help candidate work through issues he has regarding offer letter, like non-compete, etc.

So, play the game with me by hitting me with your thoughts in the comments.  What's the probability this candidate is going to start with my company on November 5th?

Googling Candidates: The Trenches Say You Can't Afford NOT To....

Last week, I did a post over at Fistful as a reaction to a Workforce Recruiting article that featured employment law experts detailing the legal risks of the following items:

-Using social networks to recruit (at the expense of other, more traditional channels), and

-Googling candidates to uncover negative information and concerns...

You gotta have balance, and my stated concern with the information being laid down was as follows: There's still a sizable percentage of HR pros out there who are risk adverse to their own detriment and slow on the uptake to use new tools, especially those involving technology.  So, they read cautionary tales like the one outlined by the legal eagles quoted in the Workforce article, and it reinforces the laziness at times.  The rationalization goes something like this: "Hey, I've read several places that I can get sued for using those tools. So I'm not going to try to experiment with the tools".

The feedback came in to the post, both in comments and via email.  Some agreed, some said I was discounting the legal exposure, some were in between.

Then, I had a face to face conversation with a SVP of HR for a major hospital in the Midwest (10K in employees, 80 folks in the HR shop).  Here's' what he told me:

"We were getting ready to hire a Director of OD.  Thought we had the right candidate, ready to make an offer.  Because it was a high level placement, we took a look across the social media platforms and ended up finding information that showed the candidate did not fit our value system, especially what we require of our leaders.  I'm not talking about drinking pictures, I'm talking about a part of her life that she was clearly hiding in the interview process.":

"I don't know what to tell you.  If I make that hire and the info comes out later, which it absolutely would, my credibility as a HR leader is on the line.  I probably survive, but the trust is probably gone and it would take me years to recover with the C-level.  With that in mind, am I going to keep Googling candidates?  You bet I am.  I have to, I'm accountable.  I don't have the choice not to seek the full profile of the candidate by any means necessary."

There are two camps of opinion on this.  My take is that most people who are strong recruiters feel the pressure to know they're not only getting the best candidate possible, but also that they know they're getting the best cultural fit possible for their organization.

Can you afford not to look?  The trenches tell me "no".

DAAAAAmn...That Job Description of Yours is Weak...

Raise your hand if you're tired of job descriptions that sound like they were created in the risk management department.  Wow...Everyone's tired of it?  Then why do all the job descriptions still suck?  Raise your right hand and repeat after me:

"I, <state your name>, do solemnly swear to fight the status quo regarding job descriptions that are boring and lame.  I pledge to take the time to write a job description that has not sold its soul to the legal department, and I promise to think like a marketer when writing job descriptions that actual candidates will see, acknowledging the fact the quality of the JD drives candidate engagement.  If a lawyer appears at my door after my first attempt, I swear I will set up a parallel universe where candidates can see the good JD in addition to the bad one as a negotiated middle ground to the legal constraints.

If I ever lose my passion for this commitment, I promise to apply for a transfer to the position of LOA coordinator at my company"

If you said "state your name" instead of saying your name, you're a wiseguy(gal).  Your HR Capitalist nickname is also "Flounder" from here on out...

Here's one to get you started - it's not perfect, but if we wait for perfection our JD's are going to sound like Ben Stein is reading them forever:

"DAXKO's Sales Team is looking for an Account Executive to work out of our Birmingham office.  We like our team members to communicate with style and grace, be passionate about software and serving the nonprofit world, work harder than anyone else they know, and keep it all in perspective by having fun.  Sound like you?  Read on.

What We Need You to Do:

--Meet and call people in member-centric nonprofits daily.  LOTS of people.

--Be likable while you sell. Seamlessly merge conversational stage banter with needs analysis while talking to potential customers.

--Find pain. Make pain better via DAXKO Solutions. Make potential customers like DAXKO and you.

--Customize proposals to fit needs of potential customers.  Write like a bard; present like a thespian.

--Help us build the business as a result of your considerable relationship-building and business skills.

--Negotiate as needed.  Be nice, but effective.

--Close new business.  No pressure…

--Hobnob in the industry, positioning DAXKO for future business not yet on the radar screen.
Keep the customers you sign up happy.

--Ever seen “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”?  You don’t have to share a hotel room, but we need you to travel up to 50% of the time.

What You Need to Have:

--At least 3-5 years of experience selling software/technology or to member-based nonprofits. We like both sectors, we want you to like at least one of them too. Both would be great...

--Killer software sales skills.  Technical chops a plus.  You don’t have to code, but you need to understand SaaS isn’t an attitude.

--Some Sheepskin.  We need the bachelor’s degree.

--Self-starting ability is a must. 

--All the other stuff everyone needs.  Be cool (professional demeanor and composure) and encourage other people to talk more than you do (able to listen and communicate effectively).


Headquartered in Birmingham, AL and recently recognized as one of the “Top 25 Best Small Companies to Work for in America,” DAXKO is a leading provider of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions to nonprofits nationwide. As a fast-growth, energetic, and profitable company, DAXKO challenges team members to be innovative contributors every day."

So it's not perfect, but it's a start.  If I was a player I would have named it "Rainmaker".  These things take time.  Take the pledge and try to be different today.

I'm Gonna Let You Finish, But This Guest Blog Post Is The Best One Ever...

Note from the Capitalist #1 - Lance Haun, aka "Your HR Guy" is running what may be the first guest post in HR Capitalist history. Why Lance?  Because I trust him.  He's spent the last 3 years running Your HR Guy, being a credible voice and doing the HR Generalist gig during the daytime.  He just made a switch to the vendor side, and he's freaking EARNED the right to pitch his wares here. You trust him, too. Remind yourself of that.  No money was exchanged for this post, which I found to be both entertaining AND informative.

For a full list of my blogging conflicts, see my "Frauenheim Disclosure" here.  It takes 50K to make me channel Tina Fey and say, "suck it monkeys, I'm going corporate".

Hit it Lance...

Some people don't have to worry about personal branding. Take Kanye West and his latest insertion into


the half-comedy, half-controversy that seems to follow him. When the leader of the free world calls you... well, it is another name for a donkey (and I don't mean a Democrat), your personal brand awareness may be through the roof. Probably not the way he would have planned though: 

One day after the famously outspoken artist interrupted an acceptance speech from 19-year-old country star Taylor Swift at the award show, suggesting that her prize for best female video should have gone to Beyoncé, a contrite West appeared on Leno's new NBC show to deliver an apology. (He was also there to support Jay-Z, who performed his single "Run This Town," which features West and Rihanna.)

"It was rude, period," West, dressed in black, told Leno on Monday. "I don't try to justify it 'cause I was in the wrong."

He added that he would take time off to analyze how he's "going to improve."

Here's a hint Kanye: stop being a part of Zoolander moments at awards shows. It is pretty easy when you lay off the booze. 

So, how can you build your brand if you're not an awesome celebrity who can jack a microphone from a 19 year old singer on a second rate awards show? The company I just started working for (MeritBuilder) has a great solution if you:

  1. Don't necessarily want to start a blog (it's tough work, I know).
  2. Don't want to build your brand through Facebook or Twitter.
  3. Aren't interested in a static virtual resume or building a website.

Your profile can be used to share the thank yous, achievements and skills of your life as they happen with the whole world. I know KD likes talking about dipping your toes into social media if you're new, and MeritBuilder is an app that can help you get more comfortable with social media and personal branding. And, if you're a pro, you can integrate the merits and achievements into social media profiles you already have. 

And Kanye, if you want any help rebuilding your brand, just drop me a line. Just don't interrupt me on the phone this time though. It makes you look like a ... well, you get the point.

Note from the Capitalist #2: Lance Haun is the VP of Outreach at MeritBuilder (Surprise, right?) and the sometimes foot-in-mouth blogger at YourHRGuy.com. He should mention that he has no dog in this fight as he isn't a fan of either. All he knows is that Taylor Swift sings about wearing T-shirts and Kanye West sings about Golddiggers. That's cool, he likes T-shirts.

The No A**Hole Rule: Don't Say It If You Don't Mean It...

I'm working on a column for Workforce on the "No A**hole Rule", which means that your organization has taken such a stand against the destructive, bad behavior of toxic employees that you've institutionalized a rule against it.  First coined, to my knowledge, by Bob Sutton; don't we all like seeing the rule?  After all, it rings true to everything we want our companies to be from a behavior standpoint.

My point in the draft version of the column?  You better back it and be ready to walk talent to the door if you put that on the culture card, kids.  Because most of us don't walk the walk.

Case in point: Michael Jordan.  Michael Freaking Jordan.

I'm a Pistons fan, so know that going in (I should add that to the Frauenheim Disclosure now that I think about it).  Here's the deal on Jordan - he's the greatest player of all time, but he was so uber-competitive that he routinely bullied, intimidated and played Jedi-mind games with teammates, coaches, refs and league officials alike during his playing days.  It's well documented.

What will you do with the Michael Jordan of your organization once you have the No A**hole Rule that you crave?  Going to walk him to the door?  Think your C-level supports that?

Don't believe that Michael Jordan was difficult enough to warrant measurement under the No A**hole Rule when he played?   Consider the following quotes (and thoughts captured from Yahoo Sports) from his Hall of Fame induction speech, where you're generally at your most classy as you thank all who helped you:

To the coach who cut him from the varsity as a North Carolina schoolboy (who was in the crowd at the Hall of Fame). “I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.” … 

To Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy — Jordan called him Pat Riley’s “little guy” — who accused Jordan of “conning” players by acting friendly toward them, then attacking them in games.

--When he finally acknowledged his family, Jordan blurted, in part, to them, “I wouldn’t want to be you guys.”

--Yahoo reports: Jordan wandered through an unfocused and uninspired speech at Symphony Hall, disparaging people who had little to do with his career, like Jeff Van Gundy and Bryon Russell. He ignored people who had so much to do with it, like his personal trainer, Tim Grover. This had been a moving and inspirational night for the NBA – one of its best ceremonies ever – and five minutes into Jordan’s speech it began to spiral into something else. Something unworthy of Jordan’s stature, something beneath him.

If you put that No A**hole Rule on the culture cards, would you walk Michael Jordan to the door because he couldn't abide by it?  That's what you should think about, because the reality is that most people are unwilling to walk much lesser talents to the door - because they think they can't live without them.

I'd walk you to the door for falling afoul of the No A**hole Rule. 

I wouldn't walk Michael Jordan to the door.  And that means I really shouldn't put that rule in play.

The "Frauenheim Disclosure" - The Many Conflicts of the Capitalist...

So, here's the deal.  Ed Frauenheim and Rick Bell of Workforce did an article a few weeks back that wondered aloud about conflicts that HR Bloggers have, and questioned whether more disclosure was necessary in the industry.  Dave Manaster followed up with this post at ERE supporting the Workforce article.  I can't take that type of pressure, man... So I started listing not only the conflicts that are present in my blogging life, but also the bias I bring to the table when I write, based on my professional identity.

As a result, I feel like I need to openly weep and beg your forgiveness. Kind of like Jimmy Swaggert after a night walking up and down the Vegas strip. 

So, here's the "Frauenheim Disclosure" of the baggage you should consider anytime you read my stuff.  I'm naming it that not because I'm mad at Ed, but because I think "Frauenheim Disclosure" sounds cool, kind of like the next movie in the "Bourne Identity" series.  The "Rick Bell Disclosure" would have sounded lame.  I'm also hoping the name gets me some much needed European-based SEO and the resulting spike in traffic.  I'll add a link to this disclosure anytime I write from a show, about a product or generally waltz in a space where a reasonable person might think I'm conflicted.

Here's all the conflicts (or notes on potential conflicts) of the Capitalist:

--I'm a full-time VP of HR for DAXKO.  My number one mission in life is to advance DAXKO in the Birmingham community and beyond.  You should read all my posts with that in mind.  The good news is that one of the reasons I write is to learn from others in the HR community, which makes me a better VP of HR.

--When I speak at shows, I am generally getting travel expenses to go do that.  I've been offered speaking fees in the past couple of months for a few shows, which I've declined to this point.  Don't ask me why - I'm probably waiting for the Jack Welch or Dave Ulrich type of speaker's fee (note: When I get 25-50K per shot, There's a high probability that I might channel Tiny Fey from 30 Rock and say, "Suck it Monkeys, I'm going corporate" <code for selling out>).  When I speak at shows, I generally do some blogging on it, which is never guaranteed to be positive and is never subject to review by the people putting on the show.  I'm also on the record as saying I'll come to speak for free to your group if you need me to.  It's just gotta fit into my schedule and be approved by my boss.

--I've never been paid to do a post.  If you've got a big offer and I accept it, I'll add you to the disclosure HERE.

--I'm not on the advisory board (paid or unpaid) of any product or service in the talent/HR/recruiting industry or anything connected to our industry.

--I've never offered positive coverage to someone as a quid pro quo for inviting me to speak or blog.

--I'm a Contributing Editor at Workforce.com.  My name appears on the masthead of the magazine, and like most people who appear on the masthead, I get paid for my work in that regard.  I also believe Workforce to be a great voice in the HR space (news gathering that also engages opinion).  I also like everyone at Workforce a lot, and I'm happy and transparent about being a part of their extended team.

--Workforce has editorial control over my columns that appear at workforce.com, but no editorial control over my blog.  In fact, all you'll find related to my blog at workforce are links to titles that appear on the Capitalist, FOT or Benefits Buzz.  They don't see it before it's live.  Since I put my name and my company's name on everything I write, the pressure to back up what I say is internalized in my daily life.

--I love the team I have at FOT and Benefits Buzz.  I promote them without apology, because I think they're the best in the business.

--I write headlines designed to get clicks. Like Ice-T once said, it ain't easy, but somebody got to do it.

Now for the bias:

--Am I a journalist?  I say yes, but I'm not a "news-gathering" journalist who is paid to simply report facts.  Instead, I think I'm an Op-Ed writer who focuses on reacting to the news and events around him.  I'm not a news-gatherer.

--I’m pro-business and anti-union as a HR pro.

--I have a strong disposition for the value of recruiting/talent management in HR.

--I think HR pros need to have a strong opinion on what goes on around them.

--I like sports, pop culture and mixing it all together with HR.

Anything that falls outside that view? I don't think about it much, which is an obvious form of bias.  I'll add things to this as they become apparent so I'm on the record, and I'll add a link to my "about" page as well.

Man, do I feel better.  I'm glad the charade is finally over.  Today is the first day of the rest of my life.


Michael Jordan and the Art of Getting the Interview (and raining fire on those who doubt you)...

The economy sucks and there are about 400 candidates in play for every open position.  Let's face it, you need to pull out all the stops, because AT BEST the company doing the hiring is only going to phone screen somewhere between 5 and 15 candidates for the open position.  That means you have to find a way to cut through the clutter.

Like Public Enemy once said, you need to use ANY MEANS NECESSARY to cut through the clutter.Bowie_jordan   That includes Googling the person you think can help you (recruiter, HR pro, hiring manager), finding online bio information and comparing and contrasting your background and skills to something that matters to the person in charge.

Want an example?  Here's how a guy leveraged my sizable digital footprint against me this week, evoking the ghost of Sam Bowie vs. Michael Jordan:

September 15, 2009

Dear Mr. Dunn:

Go back 25 years. It's 1984. You have the second overall pick in the NBA draft. Who do you take? Sam Bowie (other candidates) or Michael Jordan (me)? I don't say this to appear arrogant or cocky, but you won't find someone more dedicated to becoming the best trainer for DAXKO anywhere.

I have the sheepskin (bachelor's degree in Communications from Florida State), I have the experience (12 years in the media, one year in corporate communications and two years in customer service) and really enjoy speaking in front of groups. I also delight in seeing people's reactions when something I've taught them clicks. The lightbulb coming on puts a smile on my face.

I'm proficient with multiple operating systems (Windows and OSX) as well as other technologies (social media, video and audio editing software.) I'm not satisfied until I know a technology inside and out. I also delight in sharing my knowledge with those who desire to learn. And I know that SaaS is more than just an attitude.

All I want is a chance. A chance to prove that you're smarter than Stu Inman was in 1984.

That's it. I know you're in Ottawa right now, so I'll end this message here. Thank you for reading. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,  __________

For those of you who don't know, Sam Bowie was a college basketball star at Kentucky whom the Portland Trailblazers drafted in front of Michael Jordan in the 1984 draft.  As it turns out, Bowie never reached the potential everyone thought he had (broken shins have a way of slowing your progress) and Michael Jordan, who was drafted after Bowie - well, he became the best player in the history of the galaxy. Stu Inman was the Blazers executive who made the call.  The results have always been in the back of fans' minds in Portland, even the young ones like this HR blogger you might know.

So the candidate researches me, personalizes the message and guess what?  Regardless of fit on paper, he's going to get face time for no other reason than he cared enough to be creative.  That interests the hell out of me as a fit for my company, and if you're so cynical that you wouldn't interview someone who took the time to research you, then you're a Zombie.

By the way, did anyone see the acceptance speech by Jordan at the Basketball Hall of Fame this week?  He was calling out everyone who ever thought he wasn't good enough to play.  He actually brought the coach who cut him in 9th grade to the Hall of Fame ceremony, and then took the opportunity to tell him "you were wrong".

That's passion probably worth exploring in another post.  For now, learn from the master candidate above.

Personalize the message and get through the clutter.

Living the Zappos Lifestyle - Bathrobes and Flasks Replace Pens and Cups...

If you're giving out the "dedication to quality" award and branded awards to your employees (think pens and cups), you're lame and sure to be mocked behind closed doors by your talent base.  Like Lumburgh, do you decide to hold a stand up meeting encouraging your employees to ask, "is it good for the customer"?

Mugs and branded sticky notes follow to all employees.  Zappos


On Monday, I told you that each year we do a customer conference called "Reach", where we bring in our customers and provide sessions not only on how to get more out of our software, but we also expose them to other things that will help them run their organizations better - including the people side of the business. 

Last year, that included a panel on hiring better that included representatives from Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines and Chick-fil-A. This year we brought in Zappos, featuring Jamie Naughton, Cruise Ship Director at the oft-cited online retailer.

When most of us think about Zappos, we think about culture.  A natural byproduct of culture is "fun", so in this segment of the interview, I asked Jamie what the hot items were, from the supply closet, that they handed out to team members with the Zappos brand.  As you might expect, the normal answer (is it good for the customer?) was nowhere to be found.  Be prepared to feel lame as Jamie breaks down the answer for us:

Zappos Interview - Bathrobes and Flasks! from DAXKO on Vimeo.

I'll take some video of me sitting at my cube in the Zappos bathrobe if Jamie sends me one...

Thanks for Jamie and Zappos for participating in our customer conference.  DAXKO and our customers learned tons from you, and we're looking forward to seeing you again!

What's That Smell? Self Assessments & Performance Management

People!  I'm at the Halogen Software User Confernece.  In the spirit of challenging the performance management status quo, I offer this oldie but goodie that I want people in Ottawa (that's where the conference is and where Halogen is headquartered) to see...

As an individual who recently revamped a performance management system from the old subjective system (everyone gets the same 80 items, rank on a scale of 1 to 5) to one driven by cascading goals driving individual objectives across the organization, I've had a lot of time to ponder things in the performance management space.  One thing I have run into is the value of allowing employees to evaluate themselves as part of the process (Self-Evaluations!!)....Dennismiller

Now, I don't want go all Dennis Miller and get off on a rant here, but the prospect of self-evaluations is more riddled with holes than the final season of the Sopranos.

Here's why I don't like Self Evaluations:

1.  There is always a gap between real and perceived performance, and the gap is always largest with your lowest performing employees.  Poor performers lack the skills to perform - which are the same skills required to evaluate their performance. They don’t understand that they don’t understand, and so believe their abilities compare positively to their peers.  The Success Factors Blog plots this out with research to back it up... See the chart below from their site as well....

2.  Self Assessments set up managers who struggle with performance management to fail unnecessarily.  Your inexperienced managers already have a hard time with conflict, so you take your garden variety self-assessment (the one that allows the employees to have the first crack before receiving the feedback of the manager) and automatically your manager is boxed in a deep corner of conflict.  What is he/she to do?  Go after the perceived gaps and really drive home their point of view with multiple specifics?  Or just give in, offer up a few comments, give the employee 75% of what they wanted, and live to fight another day?  Better to allow the manager to drive the process with their thoughts before the employee has a chance to frame the conversation.  Self-Assessment afterwords, OK - Self Assessment before, not so good...

Selfeval_small 3.  Self Assessments are often crutches for managers with poor writing skills.  I literally had a manager just offer up the objective-based system to an employee, then turn it in as his own work.  I called the employee (happens to be a manager of people working for a Director) and said, "You wrote your own review didn't you?"  To which the employee responded "I did the self assessment part and I think ____ took most of my recommendations.  If you look at the last sentence of each section where the grammar changes (she meant where the grammar became very poor), you'll be able to see his comments".  Nice... what more can I say?

4.  Most employees confuse behavior and performance that "meets" expectations as "exceeding" expectations.  Called all your customers?  Got all the transactions that are a part of your job complete?  Darn, that is just plain "Exceeds"...(I'm Joking).  Most employees have the opinion that if they knock out the major components of their job, they are exceeding.  That's incorrect - the progressive view of performance management suggests that employees need to innovate and add value in other ways to truly "Exceed"  Want to know what happens with weak managers when a "Meets" employee turns in a self-evaluation that rates themselves as an "Exceeds"?   See #2 - they fold without the help of a competent partner on the Human Capital team...

Exceptions to my observations - if you use self assessments as part of a well tuned 360 degree feedback program, the self rating probably has the proper rating and is effectively counter-balanced by the non-manager feedback of others.  Of course, 360 degree feedback programs have their own set of issues, and I'll leave the pro/con breakdown of that for another day.

Bottom line - unless your org is a well-oiled performance management machine, leave the self assessment on the shelf.  Your managers won't overcome it...

Of course, like Dennis Miller, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.