How not to Judge Labor

There’s a problem, and while it’s very common to teaching, it’s still a problem elsewhere, too.  That problem is that employers are trying to judge their employees on both compliance with standard procedures and evaluate them based on results.

It is completely reasonable to evaluate an employee based on their compliance with following protocol, and in a perfect world that would be the best way to achieve success.  In teaching, throughout the year, it seems like our teachers are expected to teach using the lessons and on the subjects that administration demands.  There is a similar parallel in sales, where following a certain protocol should deliver results, most of the time.

It is also completely reasonable to evaluate employees based on their output and results.  If a teacher’s students are learning, then the methods they are using are clearly working – regardless what those methods happen to be.  Similarly, if a salesperson is evaluated based on their sales quota then, unless they are breaking laws or making empty promises, it does not make sense to condemn their methods.

But judgment cannot be done both ways at once.  The results come directly from the methods used to obtain them.  If a teacher spends the entire year compliantly teaching in a specific mandated way, and a significant portion of her students failed to learn anything, it is completely unreasonable to condemn her as a “bad teacher” or reward her as a “good teacher”.  If everyone is using the same method, then success or failure come more from the capricious whims of fate that decides who sits before you on a given day.  It is unreasonable to spend the entire year putting workers into a straightjacket with no room for individual deviation, and then trying to evaluate their results based on their “performance” at the end of said year.  Reality just does not work that way, in spite of what our evaluative methods would lead you to believe.

I am convinced that our leaders cannot reasonably judge their workers on both compliance and performance.  If a person is compliant with required methods, and is not getting results, it means the method sucks.  If a person is going to be judged on their performance, then they need to be free to work in a way that works.


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