MY to-be-blogged-about list includes this entry:

360degree Reviews, Employee Performance Appraisals, Formal Disciplinary Action.  All bunk.

These are methods for school children.  No, on second thought, school children also deserve the respect of being communicated with as adults.

Ultimately, as our culture matures, these things will go.

I’ll get to writing that up more fully one day, but in the meantime, I find I’m not alone in my opinion.

Samual A. Culbert, writing in The Wall Street Journal back in 2008, titled his disdain this way:

Get Rid of the Performance Review!

It destroys morale, kills teamwork and hurts the bottom line. And that’s just for starters.

He lists seven good reasons to support his argument:

1. Two people, two mindsets. Reviewer and reviewer have completely different concerns coming in to the review.

2. Performance doesn’t determine pay.  Budgets and politics usually do.

3. Objectivity is subjective.  More correctly, objectivity is impossible to achieve across multiple departments, reviewers, and employees.

4. One size does not fit all.  No standardized  “Performance Checklist” can take into account individual and unique strengths and weaknesses.

5. Personal development is impeded.  Employees are loath to turn to their boss for development assistance, especially if it means disclosing and discussing weaknesses.

6. Disruption to teamwork.  Personal evaluation take the onus away from team performance, the “we”, and shifts it to the “you”  the employee alone.  That does not reflect the way good teams operate.

7. Immorality of justifying corporate improvement.  Performance reviews promote “just-in-case and cover-your-behind activities that reduce the amount of time that could be put to productive use”, rather than adding value to the organization.

Mr. Culbert elucidates at length on each, and goes on to present an alternative; what he calls, “two-side, reciprocally accountable, performance previews“, for which he also has a dedicated website.

His full article is here, and it’s well worth the read.

I’d like to add two somewhat more fundamental reasons why formal Performance Reviews don’t add value.

1. Performance management should be ongoing process, not an annual event.

If a team member is good, that is, performing well and adding value, that needs to be recognized, encouraged, and built on, on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

If an employee is under-performing, why would you wait until the annual performance review to to do something about it?

2.  Formal Performance Reviews are belittling.

People are empowered like never before.  Outside their work environment they have a voice, can take the lead, can innovate and collaborate.  If the workplace remains an “old-school” environment, where employees are “standardized” and treated like children, or worse, sheep, the comparison is all the more stark.  The workplace becomes disliked, a place we go “to make money”, to survive.  That engenders Monday to Friday thinking.  That is the Rat Race.

If your company makes commoditized widgets, maybe it works for you.  Soon though, not many people will be required for that kind of work.  Then employers who want to attract and retain thinking followers and future leaders will need to treat their people like adult humans.  The annual appraisal just doesn’t reflect or embody a mature approach.

Your thoughts?