Performance Appraisals: You Wouldn’t do Them at Home…

I love my wife dearly, but there are a couple of areas that she really could sharpen up on, areas that would improve her performance and deepen her satisfaction with her home life.

Fortunately I am a very experienced manager with a large team of engaged employees and know exactly what to do to motivate and develop her.

I have instigated an annual review process

And I have spent a considerable amount of time writing her performance appraisal.

I have done it by the book:

  • Sought 360 feedback
  • Collected clear specific evidence
  • Highlighted strengths (first)
  • Identified weaknesses development opportunities.

It reads like this:

Annual Performance Appraisal

Manager: James Lawther

Employee: Christine Lawther

Role: Wife

Key Skills and Competences

Action Focus: Below Standard

  • Strength – Ability to create fabulous meals when my mother is visiting.  N.B. this could be further developed by creating fabulous meals when my mother isn’t visiting.
  • Development Opportunity – Attention to detail, I have to repeatedly empty the dish washer.  This is not a task I am accountable for and is in your job description (wife).
  • Development Opportunity – Completing and finishing, often start ironing then get distracted by fighting children so do not complete the task in hand.  Need to develop multi-tasking ability.

Influencing Ability: Good

  • Strength – Able to convince me of the business case of investing in meals for two at expensive restaurants.
  • Development Opportunity – Inability to get the children to school on time without having to resort to shouting (this is a particular problem with 10 year-old daughter).

Communication Skills: Below Standard

  • Strength – Direct and clear feedback to me about my personal failings, specifically in relation to time keeping and nocturnal habits (need to be careful this doesn’t become an overplayed strength).
  • Development Opportunity – We often get lost whilst driving through large cities as unable to clearly and concisely articulate which direction we should take whilst looking at a map.  Last year’s investment in satellite navigation doesn’t seem to have improved performance.

Overall Rating: Below Standard

The appraisal did not go as well as I had hoped

My wife was sullen and withdrawn during the conversation.  She seemed preoccupied by the rating I had given her and we didn’t get into a rich development conversation about the feedback.  Even though I practiced my best active listening techniques.

The conversation was distinctly frosty until we discussed her annual merit increase.

Then things warmed up significantly

It seemed sensible to link her pay to performance, after all, that creates a more motivational environment and a desire to succeed.

As her performance this year was below standard (as evidenced above) I had little choice but to hold the house keeping allowance at last year’s levels.  It would have sent completely the wrong message if I had increased it.

When we discussed this my wife became quite defensive, suggesting that some of the issues were outside of her control and then she had the temerity to suggest that I was equally accountable for overall household performance.

I won’t bother with an appraisal next year

It was just wasted effort and I wasn’t thanked for my input once.  The developmental feedback fell on deaf ears.  Instead I think it would be wiser simply to have a regular catch up in the evenings and talk about the children.

All of which begs the question:

If you wouldn’t do performance appraisals at home…

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Image by Boston Public Library

Read another opinion


  1. James

    You are either brave or crazy!

    Doing performance appraisal for your wife at home! What were you thinking?

    I have been married for 23 years and I would not dare speak to my wife about her short comings in the manner that you say you did.

    Best of luck – You are going to need it if you attempt anything like this again!


    • James Lawther says:

      It was a lie Mike. Though she did proof read it and I thought she was going to punch me.

      But thanks for your concern.

      As my teachers used to say to me:

      “If you wouldn’t behave like that at home what on earth makes you think it is acceptable here.”

  2. James,

    Genius. Your post embodies wisdom into human beings. You show more wisdom than a library full of articles on performance management.


  3. James,

    Did your wife slap you?

    I get your point… this is exactly how employee reviews go. Not well. And we all say the same thing: I don’t want to do that again next year. :-(

    I think ongoing, regular feedback is a much better approach.

    Annette :-)

  4. Couldn’t agree more. I have just published an article on HRZone describing why this doesn’t work from a brain perspective.

  5. This is hysterical and such an important point. I’ve often thought of this… sure we want to develop those we love, but we would never in a million years do it this way. You beg an important question….

  6. Appraisals and reviews are the biggest waste of money around. Eliminating them is a quick way to save money. But you need a METHOD of management to go along with their elimination. I suggest the Deming METHOD of Management (14 Points). Visit the LinkedIn group, Grass Roots Deming, for the endless beat of the drum of eliminating performance reviews and appraisals. Any real student of Dr. W. Edwards Deming would agree. This is were you will find supporters.

  7. Hi James,
    I love this. Shows that storing things up for a periodic review can be really problematic and performance management and review is best done on a continuous basis…..only if you have an open and honest enough relationship that can handle it. Maybe that’s the key.


  8. Marie Montoya says:

    OMG James….you are so brave!!!! I am hoping you plied her with wine before releasing this!!!!!

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