What is a 2?

Morgan handed me a stack of the files which contained copies of previous performance reviews.

“I see here that you are using a 1-5 Likert scale with 1 = poor and 5 = exceeds expectations.” Morgan nodded. I continued, “Scanning down the list, I see that you have tons of 3s and only an occasional 2 or a 4, never a 1 or a 5.”

“That’s easy to understand,” said Morgan. “We don’t have to explain a score of 3. If we rate a 2 or a 4, we have to provide a written explanation. And even if someone deserves a 5, we never give it, because then they might ask for a raise.”

“And, tell me again, what is the purpose of this review?”

“Well, our HR person says that if we have to fire someone, we need to have a bunch of 1s and 2s in the file. Something about avoiding wrongful termination.”

“Morgan, have you ever been up against a plaintiff attorney in court?”

“Not really,” Morgan replied.

“Morgan, have you ever had to explain to an attorney exactly what a 2 means?”

“Not really.”

“Morgan, with all due respect, this little form is not going to get you very far in a wrongful termination suit. There has to be a better purpose for this performance review process.”

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