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Why Performance Reviews Don't Improve Performance

Organization leaders can abandon a system that doesn't recognize the latest in neuroscience research and take advantage of new social media technology. Read More

The reason for performance

The reason for performance reviews is so the boss can compile written documentation to justify to HR the firing or retaing of employees--usually firing.


The biggest issue around appraisals is the way they run contrary to Deming's 95/5 rule. Why work on the 5%? Bonkers.

I don't see this mentioned in the otherwise congruent article.

- Bob

private vs public

Ridiculous. These people are stating that it is much better to have anyone in your company (whether or not they are aware of the actual assignment and resources you have been provided) be able to shout instantly online public negative feedback to you, rather than having the one person who knows what you are doing provide you with private, diplomatic negative feedback so that you have the opportunity to improve yourself without humiliation, and before you get fired? That is crazy.

What if that co-worker or underling is just mad that day because of soemthing that happened to them at home and now they are taking it out on the first thing they see? For instance: the coworker who is jealous of you because you've been there longer now gets to ruin your career because they are angry from road-rage on the way into work and they are having an online temper tantrum?

And yes, we are wired to not like negative feedback. Personally, I respond VERY well to positive feedback.

However, there is nothing wrong with private, diplomatic negative feedback. A company has the right to ask you to do something, and if you do it incorrectly, the person who assigned the task and knows the respources provide (your supervisor) should politely and privately tell you not only that you are making a mistake, but what to do to do things right. And if you continue to do it incorrectly, and refuse to grow and improve your performance-why should the company give you a pay raise? Basically, YES, your performance review should be an influence on whether or not you get a reward of more benefits/accolades/money.

Advocating public humiliating online bullying as a suitable alternative is simply not appropriate, nor will it EVER give you the desired results---unless, of course, YOU are the online bully.

private vs public

So what then, is the purpose of your anonymous rant?

The reason appraisals don't work

Well, in my opinion, the reason why performance reviews/appraisals don't work is because they are not carried out properly. Line managers see them as a chore (what else are they doing?) and team members are afraid of them. That's because the boss usually does all the talking and has already made up their mind about the employee's performance. When I reviewed people I would tell them that their appraisal was their opportunity to tell me how brillaint they were, and that I would challenge them if I didn't agree, but it was 'their' review, not mine.
After three years, we had developed as a team to such an extent that one of the Directors told me that he couldn't tell whether I was there or not.
Then I achieved my own goals - which were to get into learning and developemt and spend all my time developing people!

Employee Performance

Most companies conduct an annual employee performance reviews. In some instances, many would find out that performance reviews don't improve performance at all. Reading the article could greatly help you know the thing behind this matter. Moreover, an employee performance could be effective if you will conduct it effectively and efficiently.

But CAN They Work To Improve Performance?

I agree that performance appraisals, ON THEIR OWN, don't do much but eat up time, and make employees and managers more cynical. The question, though is CAN they work, and the answer is yes.

We know how to do it. But we're locked into an old way of thinking about performance, what causes it, and how to improve it.

I've been writing books, and set up a performance management resource center at http://performance-appraisals.org and been working in this area for twenty years, and people and companies are REALLY STUCK. Wish I knew how to get the majority to understand how to make these things work (and be more comfortable), but it's a change process that isn't happening right now.

Performance Appraisals

Interesting article indeed. Organizations like TalentQuest of Atlanta provide a perfect blend of consulting and software for performance appraisals, succession planning, and 360 reviews. My experience is that the performance appraisal process should be automated and clearly communicated.

A Matter of How It's Portrayed

I think there's a lot to be said, also, about how the so-called employee review is portrayed to the employee. Perhaps it shouldn't be called a "review" at all - but instead called an "annual check-in" or even "Performance Preview" as suggested in the article. Currently, I am gearing up for my first annual performance review in my new job, and I've rarely been this nervous. I think my employer is a good person and isn't trying to make it terribly stressful. However, I feel like recently the spotlight on my work performance has really intensified, based on the more inquisitive feedback after completed projects and questions about my process/thinking, for example. And, to be honest, this has not had a productive impact on my end. It has been one of the most stressful two-week periods of my life, and I didn't enjoy the aspects of the work as I usually do. I really feel like the overall system would benefit from an overhaul in what this part of the process is called, or even scrap the review altogether and plan out a more easy-going conversation that doesn't feel like a top-down corporate assessment. Also, I think it's important for the employer to openly ask, "How are we doing?" "What do you need?" or, "How are you feeling about things?" That way, the employee actually becomes a participant, rather than just a sponge for absorbing the boss's criticism.

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Ray Williams is the author of Breaking Bad Habits and The Leadership Edge.


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