Performance reviews: Scrap them?

by 18 Jan 2012

The New Year period often means a plethora of performance reviews, which, depending on how they are administered, can mean a heavy time burden for HR directors and their teams. But having performance-reviewed the performance review, some more innovative organisations have decided to do away with the process altogether.

Australian software development company Atlassian took this step. According to its HR director, traditional performance reviews cause anxiety for all parties and act as a demotivator. “Instead of discussion about how to enhance people's performance, the reviews caused disruptions and anxiety, and demotivated team members and managers,” Joris Luijke said.

Atlassian abolished official performance reviews two year ago, and replaced them with a brief weekly self-analysis that employees complete online by dragging a dot along an axis in response to questions.

The results of a 2010 survey by Sibson Consulting and WorldatWork indicated that in fact many organisations continue to conduct performance reviews simply out of convention; only approximately 1% of businesses in the US have scrapped them.

Some 60% of US HR managers rated their employer’s performance management protocols as ‘C or below’. A further 600 employee-feedback studies found that two-thirds of appraisals had zero or even negative effects on employee performance after the feedback was given.

While no statistics are available for the Australian market, most organisations continue to carry out reviews once or twice a year.


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  • by Michelle Dowding 18/01/2012 4:03:17 PM

    I can't see how scrapping a performance review is a positive thing! Performance reviews give staff the opportunity to negotiate rewards based on their performance. By abolishing these, less staff will be inclined to ask for a raise (fear factor). I also cannot see how a weekly self-evaluation is a better alternative. I know companies in Australia who do not conduct performance reviews and the staff their would do ANYTHING to have these implemented. If done correctly they should be an excellent management tool and a motivating experience for staff. If done incorrectly by management, I can see how they would be damaging but that is more an indicator of poor management skills than that performance reviews are not working.

  • by bronte jackson 18/01/2012 4:21:38 PM

    I am not surprised at all to hear of scrapping of performance reviews. I could see the writing on the wall ages ago. Hardly any businesses seem to get a benefit from them, they don't seem to impact the bottom line, motivate staff, create better relationships, develop capability, skill up staff, or assist with implementing strategy - all the things they were designed to do. If the activity you are pursuing doesn't do what it is intended to do then drop it! I do concurr with Michelles point though. I think in Australia it has been because of a great immaturity on the part of organisations and leaders that has prevented Performance reviews having the intended effect. Most organisations implemented them as they would a new software tool, using standard process management techniques to implement them not recognising or wanting to put time or resources into the strategic support and skill development required to make them work. Training on how to operate performance review software or processes replaced training on how to have discussions about performance, how to give and and receive feedback, how to resolve conflict, design action plans for development goals, coaching, counselling and mentoring that both managers and employees required for such a delicate human process to be done well. Surprise, surprise treating a human process as though it was an operational one hasn't worked.

  • by Rita Ahuja 18/01/2012 11:08:22 PM

    I agree with Bronte,management needs to be invest in training and mentoring managers to coach them how to give and receive feedback. The failure also lies in having subjective responses than objective measures which are clearly outlined in the beginning. Needless to say that performance reviews cannot be linked to salary revisions solely and they have a big role to play in the personal development of individuals.

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