An employee who is not a manager gets reviewed on the work they produce, where very little of it is dependant on other people. They might be part of a team but usually they will have tasks that only they have been assigned to. Failure to complete their part of a project or completing it poorly might cause the project to fail but generally their individual performance is visible.

Managers on the other hand have their own individual performance as well as the performance of the team they manage and the success of the projects they supervise. It appears that a manager's individual performance is less visible to their manager and that a bad manager can hide behind a successful team.

E.g. A highly performing team gets a new manager. After two years the manager is still making decisions, that if implemented, would cause the instant failure of the project but won't listen to any expert objections. Their team silently "compensates" and the project continues to be a success. The manager is rewarded for running the project even better than the last manager (who was actually competent).

There are two possibilities I can see:

  1. Upper management is only measuring the manager's performance based on the success of their projects
  2. Upper management is measuring the manager's individual performance as well, but genuinely believes they make good decisions

When it comes time to review a manager's performance, how much is based on their team and how much is based on them?

  • Managers manage other people, so by definition, a manager's performance is evaluated on the basis of the performance of those the manager manages. The manager, of course, has their own responsibilities that are specific to their position and that they must perform themselves. Your question "how much is based on their team and how much is based on them" is unanswerable because the answer varies with organization, the mix of individual and team responsibilities, any additional responsibility the manager has been assigned or has volunteered for and the manager as an individual. Commented May 20, 2015 at 11:33
  • 2
    I am voting to close on the ground that your question is unanswerable. Commented May 20, 2015 at 11:34
  • "It appears that a manager's individual performance is less visible to their manager and that a bad manager can hide behind a successful team." Also, a good manager could either suffer because of, or cover for a poor team.
    – GreenMatt
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 12:51

3 Answers 3


A manager relies a lot on his team, as does the team rely on him. There are times where there's a strong performing team, with a poor performing manager. That can still work - for some time - but eventually, the manager will be replaced. Perhaps even by someone who informally took a managing role on himself during a project.

A very good manager can also have a poor performing team, ofcourse. However, in that case, the manager most likely has quite some experience already and will get rid of people who are not performing. He will then probably be part of hiring new people in order to get a stronger team.

Managers are reviewed on the basis of the team they manage. The team, most of the time, reflects how a manager performs, because it's his job to steer people in the right direction and make sure they have all the necessary tools, experience, and information for their job.


When it comes time to review a manager's performance, how much is based on their team and how much is based on them?

The answer is really "it depends" (so I can see where this might be closed as company-specific). Ideally (and very generally speaking), a manager is evaluated based on the goals set forth by their manager, which hopefully are in alignment with the goals of the group/division/company/etc.

For example, I just started a new job, and my 30 day goal is "get this core team to perform". I'll be evaluated on whether or not the team performs, for some value of "perform" that my manager and I worked out. If I cannot get the team to perform/meet that goal, I'm ultimately judged on that outcome. However, my 60 day goal will then be to adjust in specific ways and still try to lead the team to meet that original goal.

I have longer term goals, such as 180 day goals that are "get the team to perform", "fix the deficiencies we see", "hire more engineers" and so on -- some are tactical, some are strategic, some do not map precisely to a list of actionable items, but ultimately as the manager I am evaluated on whether or not I meet those goals, which do depend on output of the team. But it's not all on me, and it's certainly not all on them, either.

In the example you provide, in which a highly-functioning team inherits a bad manager but overcompensates for that manager such that the team goals (and their individual goals) are met -- yes, that's entirely possible and I've seen it many times. Eventually, something tends to happen: the team mutinies, or people start leaving, or the manager leaves either voluntarily or involuntarily when it becomes apparent that their manager is finally catching on to the situation.


A manager's teams performance IS their performance. If the manager keeps giving the team shitty ideas which gets everyone together to complain about what a terrible manager they have and how hard-work will be required to compensate - if that translates to performance gains for the team, then the manager is by definition a good manager (as much as that might upset the team).

A manager is only really judged by two things - they're ability to come in under budget, and their key performance indicators.

If you dont like your shitty manager and think you could do EVEN BETTER than they could, tell upper management you'll do the same job, better, for less money, and they'll probably say yes.

  • 1
    Before the US automakers woke up to the idea that quality is important, the automakers' managers were rated on well they met their budgets. The result was that auto quality suffered while those managers that controlled their budgets well, even at the expense of auto quality, had good careers. Controlling the budget is an individual effort whereas implementing quality is a team effort. So the US automakers were promoting managers who performed at the expense of their teams and eventually, at the expense of the company at large. Result: a near death experience for the US automakers. Commented May 20, 2015 at 13:06
  • And the birth of Key Performance Indicators :) But you are right - there are a ton of problems with budgets: the infighting and politics between departments, the fact that it is only 1 dimension of success from which all other aspects are defined, etc etc. But they here and they are used more in company management than a collections of Annual Reviews ever will be :(
    – J.J
    Commented May 21, 2015 at 13:13

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