When I first managed people, just as I’d taken over a troubled retail sales department and had to do performance evaluations, I got a great piece of advice from my then mentor:
If all your reviews are a 5 you are doing it wrong. You may have reasons to rationalize such scores, but you do no one – especially yourself – any favors by doing so.
We, my new team, turned the department around quickly. I ignored my mentor’s advice and went ahead with my “All 5” reviews (the best possible) and … they were rejected. I had to do them all over again, this time with supervision.
My mentor rightly chastised me for ignoring his guidance and then gave me the next nugget:
If your team is all 5s, they’re all 2s.
Meaning if your baseline is so high and everyone gets the highest level, normalize the baseline. And it’s probably still too high.
If people don’t have a challenge to overcome they will tend toward complacency.
I was lucky to have smart leaders. They saw my naïveté as an advantage. My short sighted management style was converted into a galvanizing experience for the team. Meanwhile, I reassessed.
Fast forward to today. We rank all kinds of things: Amazon purchases and podcasts and Lyft drivers and restaurants and beers and so on. How many of us default to 5 stars or equivalents? What about vapid or useless “me, too” comments? And how about the essay review? My approach is evolving, but in short:
Am I adding value and what value am I adding?
If I experience something enjoyable but otherwise unremarkable, am I doing anyone any favors by assigning a 5? Better to make 2.5 the baseline.
What about the skew toward high scoring? Am I not making it worse for some things?
I try to add content to the review. A 3 beer, for example, is better than the average mass produced brew. If I give a beer such a score I will add the context to the score. Maybe it’s dry or fruity or hoppy or has some other attribute placing it above the norm.
Until this becomes normal I do not rely on straight up scored reviews for anything substantial. Again with beer or food I will trend toward the high scores with high review counts.
I suggest all embrace circumspection in scoring of things, services & people.
Let me know if you can identify the post’s title reference.