Ricky Gervais (Office): Is the ‘don’t know’ option a ‘don’t care’ option in performance appraisals?

In a rather hilarious display of how ‘real world’ performance management appraisals sometimes go, Ricky Gervais provokes us to think not only how ineffective the ‘don’t know’ option is, but brings to discussion the painfully obvious challenge HR managers sometimes face; what to do with the “don’t Know” or in my view the equivalent ‘don’t care’ option. Yes you could argue that “don’t know” has an empirical value when it comes to metrics and pinpointing where an organization may need to apply focus or increase knowledge. At the same time, we also see that disinterest usually opts for the easier route what really amounts to the ‘not required to think’ option. In this case if, Big Keith’s interest was even remotely stimulated by the actual intention of the performance appraisal, human resources could actually end up with a meaningful result. Now this funny, but sad reality of how employees sometimes go about these appraisals, HR often ends up with some clouded overall results.

So what does this mean for HR? The answer may perhaps be uncovered somewhere elsewhere. It is quite thinkable that performance appraisals are at times susceptible to a lack of interest of an employee. So the question remains, should a Big Keith be fired on the spot for his disinterest, or could something else have been done to first communicate the intention of the appraisal or should some sort of reward for Keith’s caring be put in place? I’d be very interested to hear some of your views on how you go about these personas and which contingencies, if any, you factor in on either your appraisal formulation or communications to employees before appraisal time in order to stimulate rather than get a ‘must do/don’t care’ attitude.