Prior to this year’s Super Bowl, New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady was considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of his generation, and possibly one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. But with the Patriots loss to the New York Giants, Brady’s legacy is taking a beating. Numerous sportswriters, sports talk hosts and bloggers have railed on Brady, blaming him for the loss. Brought into question now are his heart, skill and ability to win another Super Bowl.
While arguably Brady did not have his finest performance in the Super Bowl, the degree of criticism appears to be overblown and misplaced. Forgotten by the critics is the fact that Brady led his team in two consecutive scoring drives just before the end of the first half. The latter drive started on the Patriots’ 4 yard line and ended up being the longest touchdown drive in Super Bowl history. Had the Patriots remained pinned down deep in the own territory, the Giants would likely have received the ball with great field position and with the opportunity to score and change the complexion of the game entirely. Brady also completed 16 straight passes during one stretch in the game. Not too shabby. While Eli Manning’s performance was considered great (30/40, 296 yds, 1 TD), Brady’s Super Bowl statistics (27/41, 276 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT) were similar to Manning’s. Washed up you say? Brady also threw an amazing 39 touchdowns this year and racked up 5,235 passing yards which, if it were not for Drew Brees’ season would have established a new single-season record.
Despite these facts, the overwhelming buzz is that Brady is now a failure and an underachiever, especially in big games. In this case, the sport cliché of “defense wins championships” has vanished much like the vampires that looked into a set of Audi LED headlights during a Super Bowl commercial.
From a human resources perspective, there are lessons to be learned from Brady’s overnight transformation from legend to goat. There are parallels between how Brady is being assessed and common mistakes employers make when conducting performance evaluations. These mistakes include basing evaluations on emotion, ignoring objective criteria, placing too much weight on recent events and being inconsistent in rating similarly situated employees.
Here are five (5) tips employers should follow to ensure that employee evaluations are fair, accurate and productive:
- Performance Reviews should be based facts and not emotion: As a threshold matter, a supervisor conducting the evaluation needs to have an understanding of the employee’s actual performance. The assessment should be based on facts as opposed to assumptions, rumor, innuendo or emotion. In other words, do your homework.
- Use Objective Criteria: Focus on whether the employee is performing the requirements of the job, such as quality and quantity of production. Subjective characteristics such as an employee’s attitude are important and should be considered, but negative ratings about these characteristics should be supported by evidence showing how the conduct impacted the organization and other team members.
- Consider the Entire Evaluation Period: An annual evaluation should be based on the entire year. Avoid placing too much weight on recent events or performance. Feedback should be given on a regular basis. If the employee is effectively managed, there should be no surprises when the annual evaluation is issued.
- Be Consistent: The supervisor should evaluate employees in an objective and consistent manner. Develop criteria and use it for every employee. This will protect against claims of favoritism or unlawful bias.
- Be Positive: The purpose of an evaluation should be to motivate your team member to improve. This will not happen if only negative comments are provided. This does not mean you should sugar coat problems. However, you should give appropriate praise to areas where the employee succeeded. This will also help show that the evaluation was fair and unbiased.
Perhaps if the pundits would have followed some of these suggestions, the post game analysis would have been different and, in my opinion, more fair.
You can see Ken’s session, A Sport Fan’s Guide to Human Resources, at the 22nd Annual SHRM-Atlanta HR Conference at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta, March 13-14th, 2012.
Ken N. Winkler is a shareholder of Berman Fink Van Horn P.C. Ken’s practice concentrates on advising entrepreneurs, business owners and companies regarding the numerous employment laws and regulations that govern the workplace. Ken’s practice also includes representation of both plaintiffs and defendants in disputes involving restrictive covenants including non-compete, non-solicitation of customers, non-recruitment of employees, non-disclosure/confidential information and trade secrets provisions. Ken obtained his J.D. from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, summa cum laude, from The Ohio State University.