Performance Evals – Idol Style

Kathy Rapp Kathy Rapp, Performance

I think most of you know I’m an American Idol junkie.  I have no shame and yes, I even DVR the auditions – although I will say they’ve become a bit predictable.  How many times can we watch people make total idiots of themselves for 20 seconds of fame?  Pants on the ground.  Really?!

What I DO love about Idol is the raw, revealing and raunchy judging.  For the most part, and especially post-Paula, the judges are real and don’t hold back – and at times actually impart sound advice.  It got me thinking….what would performance evaluations be like “American Idol Style”?

Here’s the set-up. You, the employee, walk into a room and face 3 to 4 “judges” of your performance.  You are asked what you expect to get out of the evaluation and then allowed to give a 2 minute synopsis of why you should be picked to go to “Hollywood” – i.e. why you should receive a merit increase and more work.  Then, after your creative and (in your mind) well articulated response, here come the reviews:

    • Randy, your co-worker who you never really understood why he is perceived as so important: “Yo dog – I’m not feel’in ya.  The tone of your response was so-so and I really didn’t see any reason why I should put you through.  What?!?”


  • Cara, your direct report who thinks she should have your job:  “First off, you have a really good look, and I don’t know why – but there’s something about you I like.  I really believe you.  You do deserve a break.  I think as long as you don’t look better than me, you should get an increase.”



  • Guest Judge, the random temp who drinks all the free sodas and doesn’t contribute much: “I think you are AWESOME, man! You should try out for Broadway or something like that.  Yeah. Yeah.  A million percent YES!”



  • Simon, your manager who is perpetually obnoxious and has no idea what you really do all day:  “Ok, ok – I’ve heard quite enough.  Have you sat on a cat or something?  It’s all a little bit like the lights are off.  Shall we vote?”


In all seriousness, what if we did away with all the painful evaluation forms and competency ratings?  What IF we really did have a moment in front of people that could dramatically change the direction of our careers to state a case as to why we should get a raise, be promoted, be allowed to work a flex schedule or try something new?  Do you think employees would put a little more thought into the process of “self-evaluation”?  Would there be sparks of genius – never before captured in written words?  Could it be possible for the mild-mannered employee, who is actually quite bright but perceived as a dud, to demonstrate why he should be considered for the hi-po program and then receive a golden ticket?  Imagine the innovation and creativity that could come out such an exercise!

I think our evaluation processes could stand to be shaken up a tad – so who’s with me?!  Just promise if you don’t get the eval you were expecting you won’t have to be dragged away in handcuffs or break into boob boxing. That could be problematic.