Performance Appraisal can successfully Alter Behavior: A Strange Story


Performance checklists work even on terrorists.
Performance checklists work even on terrorists.

The performance appraisal has been under attack of late from many directions as being an ineffective tool to alter an employee’s behavior. Here is a strange story of how a performance appraisal letter outlining poor performance successfully altered the person’s behavior.
Even terrorists get performance appraisals
Moktar Belmoktar was an aspiring terrorist in Algeria. He worked for Al Qaeda’s North African branch. He had a desire to be a leader and have his own group. But his independent streak and unwillingness to follow rules led to a letter of reprimand that pointed out his faults. He did not return calls; he did not fill out expense reports; he spent money but did not step to buy weapons; and, most damning of all was this quote:

“Any observer of the armed actions (carried out) in the Sahara will clearly notice the failure of The Masked Brigade to carry out spectacular operations, despite the region’s vast possibilities — there are plenty of mujahedeen, funding is available, weapons are widespread and strategic targets are within reach….Your brigade did not achieve a single spectacular operation targeting the crusader alliance.”

Letter spurs action
Well Moktar Belmoktar did not take this reprimand lightly. He ended up leaving the organization and started a competing terrorist group called “Those who sign in blood.” The reprimand letter must have caused some wounded pride because his group then went on to perform the biggest and deadliest terrorist raid this year. His group is responsible for the attack on the BP oil refinery that resulted in 101 deaths including 37 foreign nationals, including Americans.
Not making light of this
I am not making light of this situation, but using it as a lesson. The acts of this terrorist group have been horrific and deadly, however, without the letter of reprimand on his performance this attack might not have occurred. Performance feedback can be a powerful tool for changing behavior for good or evil. Use it to effect positive change in your employees.
Al-Qaida Letter Reprimands Difficult Employee from Oregon Public Broadcasting
Al Qaeda leaders lash out at lazy terrorist in 10-page letter over insubordination, failure to file expense reports. From NY Daily News

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