Author: Brandon Smith

Prescription – How to deliver a “dysfunction-free” performance review

More often than not, workplace dysfunction is a sneaky and unpredictable thing. Your boss flips out without warning simply because your report is an hour late. Your co-worker smiles at you in the break room only to be secretly plotting to get you fired the first chance they get. However, there is one time of year that dysfunction can be anticipated – performance review time. This season is particularly ripe with dysfunction, headaches, heartbreaks and generally heightened levels of anxiety and stress. Think of it as that season later in life when we are all more likely to get...

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When performance reviews become personal

It has been my experience that when performance reviews turn dysfunctional, 50% of the time the issue lies with the content itself (its inaccurate, vague, political, etc…). However, for the other 50% of the time it has to do with how the feedback was delivered. Sometimes the feedback comes across as a personal attack. It’s as if our manager simply doesn’t like us. Other times the feedback comes across as a cold and callous assault. It’s almost as though our manager could care less about us as a human being. In either case, if performance feedback isn’t grounded in caring for...

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When performance reviews become unpleasant surprises

When it comes to performance reviews, perhaps nothing can be more frustrating than to be “surprised” during the conversation. However, before we go much further down the path, it is only fair that I share  my personal bias against virtually all surprises. Admittedly, I’m not a lover of surprises, and if you don’t believe me, you can ask my wife. She’s learned the hard way that “surprise birthday parties” are my own version of a personal nightmare. I’d much rather go to the dentist than have a surprise party thrown on my behalf (usually complete with blindfolds, unknown destinations, and mystery...

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When performance reviews become political

Years ago, I was a young manager working for a large global financial services company. During my time there, the economy plummeted into a recession (sound familiar?). As a result, raises were few and far between. As a youthful and naive manager I had plenty of ambition and more than my fair share of luck. In fact, during my tenure, the organization went through several rounds of layoffs.  Somehow I survived, but in the midst of all of the chaos and slashing, all of my bosses were let go. When the dust had settled, I was the most senior person in my...

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“Performance Reviews”

Performance reviews. Need I say more? There is nothing as dysfunctional and as predictable as the annual performance review. From vagueness to politics, from personal attacks to overall managerial disinterest, performance reviews are inherently nasty and rarely done well. Bob Sutton, a professor at Stanford University, has a wonderful perspective on performance reviews. To quote Bob, “if performance reviews were a drug, they would not be FDA approved… About half the time performance goes up after a performance review conversation and about half the time performance goes down.” Whether you are a manager and have the responsibility to conduct...

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Meet The Therapist

Therapist, professor, consultant and radio host, Brandon Smith brings an upbeat, witty approach to the challenges of workplace health and dysfunction. Read More »

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