“This is a big opportunity to fix my team’s performance, appraisals are here. I gonna show them.” These thoughts ran through Jason’s mind, an experienced manager, as he lay awake one night. He had led a team of technical officers for the past one year and it all seemed things were not working out. Simple instructions were not being followed and he always wondered what has come to this generation. His ability to achieve results in the past gave him the chance to be chosen as the overall regional manager of the company.

Jason arrived at his office on a Monday morning, excited and looking forward to the appraisals that were planned for the week. Together with his senior managers, they were to review performance of the teams and make recommendations for the next year. It was his time to fix things.

At the end of the exercise, they decided that all the teams needed to be bashed on their performance and according to the human resources performance management guidelines, they agreed that teams had done below expectations. This mean that they needed to work harder or ship out. It was time to fix things for sure. They were all collectively graded at 2, translating to below expectations and hence a performance improvement program initiated.

They went ahead and communicated the verdict to the teams. There were problems of course. Team members began to barely talk to one another. Others teams who needed to collaborate, angrily viewed the other as competition and blamed them for the situation they were in. Those who worked so hard felt that their efforts will never be recognized and so started to slow down. “After all we will all be judged equally” They thought. The goals set seemed impossible to achieve and the jokers quickly stole the show and jeered on the others. “Performance mitigation program? Ooh, come we mentor you. We have been there and seen it all. Welcome to the club” By the end of the quarter, Jason was worried about performance and it seemed that team performance had actually gone down further.

Soon, the overall company CEO had to intervene. He came over and met Jason. For a long time he had allowed Jason to run the region in the best way he could. But now it seemed things were getting out of hand. After some careful interrogation, the reality dawned on him. The focus was all wrong. Jason focused on the team and forgot about himself. Was he failing as a leader and maybe he should be the one being placed at the performance improvement program? The CEO pointed this out to him. “Often as leaders we deflect performance responsibility to employees. It is an easy when it is not about me, and we often go home bashing teams for not performing. But look, it is the leader who is not performing” And so Jason was graded at 2 and he was the one placed on the Performance Improvement Program.