"Youare old, Father William," the young man said...

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PERFORMANCEAPPRAISAL & Unconscious Imprinting

WhySo Much Fear of Performance Appraisals?

Overtwenty-five years of corporate consulting,  I often helped people cope with thecomplex anxieties accompanying performance appraisals. The sad fact is that most employees (both bosses and subordinates) approach theseopportunities for feedback and growth with terrible feelings of trepidation. Where does all this fear come from?  Itcomes from early unconscious imprinting.  (Imprintings& The Levels of the Unconscious)  

Thinkback - what was the first time in your life when your performance was appraised in writingand significant emotion was present?  That'sright.  Report cards.

WhenI was a kid, report cards were more honest in that they gave two sets of grades Ė onefor how well you performed, and one for how well the teacher liked you. The first was generally expressed in the letters A-B-C-D-F, symbolizing maximumachievement to minimum or unsatisfactory achievement. The second, variously called Effort, Citizenship and Deportment, was expressed inthe numbers 1-2-3-4-5, symbolizing maximum effort to minimum or unsatisfactoryeffort.  

Sincemost of us spent our childhood and adolescence in school, that imprinting was not onlydone when we were very young but was repeated year after year after year. And what is the perfect report card in that system?

A-1,of course!  Maximum Achievement with MaximumEffort!

But when you step back for a moment and look again, A-1 is silly and stupid. Why?  Because it leads us to believethat excellence equals maximum achievement with maximumeffort.

Howabout A-5:  Maximum Achievement with MinimumEffort!

Afterwe see it, A-5 is obviously a vast improvement over an A-1 belief system that drives uscrazy by making us think we can never do enough.  Buthere's the Catch-22: while A-5 may make perfect sense rationally, imprinting causes us tobehave irrationally, just as in the story of the black Labrador puppy and Aunt Elizabeth.  So what's going onwith this A-1/A-5 stuff anyway?  The simpleanswer is its driving us nuts!  And the majorway it does this is to teach us we can never do enough because no matter how high theachievement, we could always have put in more effort, couldn't we?

Understandingthe Unconscious Isnít Enough

Iílluse myself as an example.  I teach this stuff,right?  If anyone should be able to appreciateA-5 in another person, it ought to be me.  Letme tell you another story.  Cindi Crutchfield ran the business aspects of our small consulting company for many years because I wassmart enough to know that if I ran it, we wouldn't have company for very long. Somewhere around the sixth or seventh year we worked together, we were having agood deal of success, and this resulted in my spending much time on the road which got mepretty stressed and strung out.  (There'snothing like a little stress to help your imprinting show up!) Well, during a stretch of about three weeks traveling, one day I called the officeand Cindi wasn't there.  In my frustration andimpatience, I left her this message on the answering machine:

"Wherethe hell are you?  I'm out here working my buttoff, and you're not even in the office!"

WhenI got back into the office later that week, Cindi still wasn't there, but over her deskwas a large sign:





Fromthat point on I had to look at that sign whenever she wasn't sitting at her desk...


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