We Are Sunshine

Avoiding ‘Clone’ Syndrome: How your comparisons could be doing more harm than good

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2019

A performance review is like a landmark in your relationship with your employees. It is a moment of formality that can make a lasting impression on your entire team. Obviously, doling out your opinion about someone’s work is a delicate topic. Fragile egos hang in the balance, which is why it is essential to treat each person with respect for their individuality.

The goal of any performance review is to reinforce the core values of your company and help your staff members reach their full potential. However, it is crucial to handle this in a way that does not sacrifice harmony within your team – a problem that often arises when managers attempt to compare employees to each other.

It might seem like a good idea to make a role model out of someone who successfully performs job duties, has a great attitude and exceeds expectations. But the truth is that these comparisons can quickly lead down the road to resentment and bad behavior. When you tell an employee that they should act more like someone else, what you’re really doing is diminishing your employee’s self-esteem by insinuating that who they are isn’t good enough. Others may go the opposite route, defiantly proving that they are nothing like their peer. Either way, comparing the performance of two employees can lead to disastrous consequences.

So let’s consider what you’re really trying to accomplish. When you use a peer example, it’s typically because that person produces desirable results or does things in an effective manner; this person exhibits the qualities of a high-performing employee. Instead of attaching success to that person, attach success to the qualities they demonstrate.

When conducting a performance review, some managers rely on comparisons to effectively qualify how well an employee is doing. If that sounds like you, here are some comparisons you can make that maintain focus on the individual:

  • Compare what an employee does to a more preferable action.
  • Compare an employee’s numbers to a goal you’d like them to achieve and brainstorm ways to reach that goal together.
  • Compare an employee’s current performance with their past performance.
  • Compare an employee’s problem-solving process with other potential processes.
  • Compare an employee’s sales pitch to your sales script.
  • Compare an employee’s performance with what they learned in training.

Using these tactics to evaluate performance allows an employee to hold him/herself up to an achievable, non-threatening standard. Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each staff member individually allows them to achieve personal and professional growth that you can both appreciate. And as always, make sure to reinforce positive behavior as you see employees strive to do their best and overcome obstacles.