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"There's no crying in baseball," Tom Hanks' character in "A League of Their Own" tells a baseball player who bursts into tears after he lambasts her for a fielding error that costs her team a two-run lead.There is, however,
crying during and after performance reviews, according to the results of a new Adobe survey. Thirty-four percent of Millennials say they have been driven to tears during a performance review. And 25 percent of men of all ages—and 18 percent of women—have cried because of a review. The survey results reflect responses from 1,500 U.S. office workers queried in November and December 2016.Mark Scott, vice president of corporate communications at Atlanta-based eVestment, has managed people and teams for about 25 years. He still remembers an encounter he had with an employee at another firm years ago. The company had not performed well financially that year, and raises—if given at all—were to be capped at around 2 percent. However, Scott's employee was "outstanding" and difficult to replace, he said. He fought for—and secured—a 5 percent raise for her.When he gave her the news, she began bawling: She was expecting a 15 percent or 20 percent pay bump.
"I was floored," he told SHRM Online an e-mail. He left the room to allow the woman to compose herself. When they resumed the conversation, he explained that her raise was "extraordinary" under the circumstances. It was her first job out of college, and he said she had no idea that the raise she expected was "exceedingly rare" under the best circumstances.
He said he has learned to communicate company metrics and performance feedback throughout the year so that there are fewer surprises at the review.
He also advised managers to refrain from hugging or touching a distraught employee. In fact, he said, it's best to leave the room if an emotional outburst occurs.
"You may have the best relationship now, but if things become strained or the person gets on an improvement plan, that hug while he/she was crying could be brought back up against you" in a sexual harassment claim, he said in an e-mail.[SHRM members-only toolkit:
Managing Employee Performance]
Focus on Constructive Feedback
Heightened emotions during a performance review are understandable, said Marta Moakley, J.D., legal editor with XpertHR specializing in HR strategy and management, employee relations and communications. The culture may be very competitive or tolerant of employees displaying their feelings, either of which may lead to heightened emotions, she pointed out. The employee's relationship with the supervisor, the employee's state of mind during the review and how the review is handled can trigger an emotional reaction, she said.
In workplaces using forced rankings, "a bad review can trigger abrupt consequences for an employee, especially when there exists a possibility of termination," Moakley said in an e-mail.She suggested managers who have had employees become emotional during a performance review to ask themselves:
Be Supportive but Firm
Offer to reschedule the meeting to the afternoon or the next morning if the review becomes too overwhelming for the employee, but don't delay it too long or water down your message.
Focus on the issue, not the person; keep the discussion centered on how to solve the problem at hand.
Ask employees what resources or training they need, and confirm that they understand the expectations of the job.
Schedule a time to meet in a few days to document what steps both of you will take to address the issue.
"The one thing I've learned is that it is important to be supportive and empathetic but firm," she said. "There is an issue that needs to be addressed, and, while sometimes employees can become emotional, ultimately they are responsible for their performance."
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