Due to the market conditions for the last couple of years, your company probably hasn’t given out too many performance raises.

Due to the market conditions the last couple of years, your company probably hasn’t given out too many performance raises. But as business picks up, some of your key people are already lining up their thoughts on asking for that raise. There are always periodic articles about, as an employee, how to ask the boss for a raise. These include things like asking for a personal meeting, being assertive, being informed about your market value and keeping cool during the meeting. Great. But how do you as the boss handle these meetings?

A corollary to these meetings might be the annual performance-review meeting you, as the boss, are supposed to conduct with your people. In my opinion, the annual performance review is one of the most ill-conceived ideas given to us by the management gurus. Unbelievably, many companies still conduct these useless exercises. The idea should be put out of its misery once and for all. Everybody who has to do it hates it, and everyone who is subject to them equally dislikes them.

Don’t get me wrong. Reviewing performance is a good thing, but it should be done at the appropriate time when there is a reason to discuss the actual results of a person’s work. Such times, for example, are when a project has achieved its goals, there has been a successful sales initiative or there has been a failure in these areas. That is when the performance review will be most effective and will be most believable to the employee.

I know that Jack Welch, the ex-GE CEO credited with that company's superb growth during his administration, has said that you promote the top 20% of your people and rid your company of the bottom 20%. But I don’t think I’ve ever read exactly how he made those distinctions. I do suspect that GE used the annual performance review somewhere in their businesses. If so, I wonder how important that really was, and I seriously doubt Mr. Welch used those reviews (if they had any) for selecting his top performers.

As a manager of a department or operation, you know who the people are who make things happen and those who are merely hanging on. If you don’t, you need to spend less time at your desk and more time out where the action is in your department.

More on this next week.