The Five-Minute Buddhist Books

Recommended Host

The Karma Of Performance Reviews

The Karma Of Performance Reviews

A Reader recently wrote:

Hello, everybody here,

I have a simple question regarding the karma generated if i wrote negative comments for a co-worker job performance review.

I have been refraining myself from false speech, and practicing kindness as my ‘religion’. (quote from Dalai Lama).

My job requires me to give co-workers performance review and it would be lying to management if I intentionally obscure any facts.

I found it joyful to give co-workers due credit on review paper.

Now please help me to understand the karma flow if I have to comment on a co-workers’ unprofessional performance.

I don’t want to make false speech to management. But negative review would cause co-worker pain(although the pain is we said ignorance).

Please help me to find the middle way to deal this situation.

And my response:

Buddhism is all about reducing suffering and harm to others.

If no harm is being done by your co-workers actions, then why mention it at all? I assume you ask this because there is something wrong.

You weren’t specific on the offense, but if someone is acting unprofessionally, it’s probably causing harm somewhere, even if its only in building resentment and hard feelings. Even the act of causing you to worry enough to ask this question shows that this person’s actions are causing harm.

Will your negative review allow the co-worker a chance to correct whatever it is he/she is doing wrong? If so, your not making the problem known is going to cause harm as well. Will your review cause the co-worker to be fired immediately? If so, then perhaps a gentle, unofficial warning would be in order before putting it on the report; that depends on the situation and environment, so I cannot absolutely recommend that. However, if the problem is made known to the worker and her or she continues offending, then the person is going to have to be responsible for their actions.

Under no circumstances should you deliberately LIE about someone, whether or not you believe that lie is going to do harm to someone. But you are now asking about a ‚Äúlie of omission.‚Äù Refusing to mention, or actively ‚Äúcovering up‚Äù someone else’s ‚Äúunprofessional performance,‚Äù is still a lie. Not only do you damage your own karma by lying, but you damage your co-worker’s karma by enabling him or her to continue doing something wrong.

Bottom line: Give them a fair warning and the opportunity to correct the situation if you are able. If he behavior continues, then write your review objectively and truthfully, and let the chips fall where they may.

1 comment to The Karma Of Performance Reviews

  • AH

    The corporate world is not very conducive to Buddhist views. In many companies, providing both positive and “developmental” information is required for a “balanced” review. For my own view on this specific topic, balancing the goal of a performance review with Buddhist views should actually mesh quite well, in that your choice of words should be the vehicle for the effects of karma. Our society has eroded much of its ability to be articulate because we are always ‘texting’, emailing, or ‘im-ing’ our way through daily communications. The art of using words to convey meaning cannot be over emphasized. Expressing outright negative comments on a review does in fact sound somewhat overt; expressing developmental comments with a sincere desire to elicit positive change in behavior is another. Too often we lose sight of the power of words. After all, written language has been around for thousands of years, and because of this it does help to convey many different thoughts and emotions. Tapping ones vocabulary archives may help to resolve this type of dilemma.