Monday, April 12, 2010

Everyone Hates Performance Reviews

The Wall Street Journal just posted a piece about how Performance Reviews suck.
This corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities.... Pretentious, bogus practice that produces absolutely nothing...

Ouch ... now that is some nasty name calling. But, we already know everyone hates HR, and especially performance reviews. This article just feels like a strip of flypaper - attracting those that share a displeasure in their under-performing managers and antiquated, broken systems. It's not too hard to do.

The author, Samuel A. Culbert, claims there is a better way - simply 'asking and listening'. He throws in some belittling to boot, "Imagine that. It's called a conversation, and it's a rarity in workplaces today." Well, well, well ... Good Day Sir!

Really, all of this is NOT about the performance review, it's about bad performance reviews. It's about poor managers and management. I agree a bad review (i.e. rigid, irrelevant paperwork) and bad management is harmful to the company, to relationships, and productivity. But I can't help think Culbert's gratuitous and cavalier flogging of the process solves nothing. Except, perhaps, it perpetuates the dogma that the review is the problem.

Culbert's suggestion of 'asking and listening' (or ideas of 'straight talk' and 'previews' he has previously suggested) can go just as wrong as a review! It can be ignored, it can be inconsistent, and it can subjective. It can be . At the end of the day, there's no greater contribution to operational effectiveness and success than honest and timely assessments of a worker's performance - an ongoing partnership and conversation. Don't blame the concept of a performance reviews to cover up for a poor process or a lazy manager.

Don't be such a hater. If you really care, let's focus on ways to give employees consistent and worthwhile feedback, rather than eliminating the only feedback some folks get. Can't we use our time to find real and positive ways to gather the ideas and challenges of employees and work together to solve problems and drive performance?

4 comments:

  1. I recognized Culbert's name. Rather than say more here and sound like I'm name-calling, I'll just link to what I wrote the last time I saw him dispense the same attitude he's peddling today. (That earlier piece of his also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, some 18 months ago.)

    http://jobsinthemoney.blogspot.com/2008/10/ditch-performance-reviews.html

    Ditch Performance Reviews? (published 10/21/08)

    Samuel A. Culbert once had a boss he didn't like. And I mean, really, really didn't like.

    That's what I concluded after reading Professor Culbert's long polemic against employee performance reviews, in Monday's Wall Street Journal....
    (snip)

    The key conclusion I reached then: "Reading his piece, I get the feeling he is focusing on the worst-case scenario for managerial behavior, and treating it as the norm."

    Which is just about identical to Matt's conclusion in this post: "Really, all of this is NOT about the performance review, it's about bad performance reviews. It's about poor managers and management."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Matt,
    Did you read the comments on the article? Rypple is a great product that I tried to use but requires a certain level of trust and honesty from the reviewer.

    My 2 cents on this topic is that the current mode of review is not productive, therefore not relevant to the business it proports to serve. 360 reviews would have been more applicable to my situation as an architect where I worked under a direct supervisor who was megalomaniacal in his need to control everything project related. He wanted to be a project manager but had poor organizing and relationship management skills which resulted in 3 consecutively botched jobs. In my last review I asked "Who reviews the supervisors?" "Do their reports get to comment on their performance?". This was met with blank stares and blah blah blah move it along talk.

    Point is, unless there is a feedback loop these things will always seem one-sided. Until companies interested in productive and motivated work forces start having open, honest and constructive interactions with their work force this is all moot.

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  3. Hey Ryan!

    I did read the comments on that article and I've also heard of Rypple before. (Even mentioned it in a post about a year ago http://tinyurl.com/3yuyyvt).

    I agree with your bottom line "until companies interested in productive and motivated work forces start having open, honest and constructive interactions with their work force this is all moot. "

    If your current review method doesn't work, it needs to be adjusted - whether its Rypple, 360s, quarterly goals, or whatever. No matter the system, megalomaniac supervisors need to get reviews too - otherwise the feedback you want to generate will go unheard (or worse yet, used against you).

    There has to be leadership and ownership to manage performance, keep employees engaged, and the business on track.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi

    Tks very much for post:

    I like it and hope that you continue posting.

    Let me show other source that may be good for community.

    Source: Office supervisor job description

    Best rgs
    David

    ReplyDelete