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The corporate “curse”: should you stop giving performance reviews?

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HC Online | 20 Feb 2015, 07:27 AM Agree 0
A business academic has suggested that all managers should discard performance reviews in their workplace, dubbing them intimidating and outdated “whips”.
  • Amanda | 20 Feb 2015, 12:47 PM Agree 0
    This is a very narrow perspective, assuming that the process of a performance review is the contributor to the poor culture and lack of accountability. Perhaps not using words like 'boss' and 'subordinate' would go a way towards the culture Culbert is describing?
  • Jon Windust | 20 Feb 2015, 01:22 PM Agree 0
    Our experience is that companies are heading in a more agile approach to performance management. The process described in this article is dated.
  • Sarah | 20 Feb 2015, 04:55 PM Agree 0
    Well said Amanda and good point from Jon. Like all processes things need to adapt and change....Performance reviews are no different - conduct them in a way that works for your business and helps build the right feedback and culture. That might mean not calling them performance reviews anymore but surely some form of assessment system, feedback system, improvement system is in place even in companies that proudly brag "we don't do performance reviews anymore".
  • Linus Cole | 20 Feb 2015, 09:35 PM Agree 0
    Performance Reviews are not prehistoric if used effectively in reasonable cycles. Too many 'experts' down play the worth of the process to manage both good and poor performers. I would seriously take to task resisters. Managers and participants who 'fabricate' during the process are eventually unvailed provided the whole process is fair dinkum...this is rare in my experience.
  • Bernie Althofer | 23 Feb 2015, 10:51 AM Agree 0
    The issue of performance management, performance appraisals, assessments and reviews have been the focus of discussions for some period of time.

    It does seem that some organisations place considerable reliance on having some performance management system or process in place. It also seems that there are numerous 'offerings' regarding the type of performance management system or process that an organisation can implement.

    It seems that irrespective of the type of system or process selected for implemented, communication and management practices seem to have a direct bearing on whether or not the system or process is implemented in the manner intended, is understood by all those involved in the system or process, and whether or not those involved have been or are being provided with regular learning and development opportunities.

    It also seems that where pressure is brought to bear, or where short cuts are consistently taken, day to day practices ensure that what is being done looks nothing like the policy. As a result, communication becomes a thing of the past, and the system or process turns into a bureaucratic paper war of little value to anyone.

    It does seem that there needs to be a structured or documented policy that clearly sets out the who, what, where, why, how, and when of performance management. Unfortunately, it seems that in some cases, a policy is posted in electronic format with an expectation that it be implemented. As a result, individuals place their own interpretation on the policy and the implications thereof, and do what they think is required.

    Given the extent of litigation across the workplaces, it does seem that there is a need to have a structured system or process in place that allows issues relating to performance to be managed in a positive way. Unfortunately, it does seem that in some cases, the lack of knowledge or understanding, or even the unwillingness to take the time required to address performance issues, 'performance management and reviews' have ended up with a bad name.

    It might be the case that if more time was invested in ensuring that managers and workers understood the importance of communication, particularly around performance, then there might be a better acceptance of the reasons for such systems and processes.
  • Gladys Kouts | 24 Feb 2015, 10:04 AM Agree 0
    Interesting insight into changing the approach to performance management...I still feel feedback is necessary for professional and personal growth and inevitably performance. It's not about the tool or the process, it's about the quality of communication exchange between managers and employees.
  • Kala Philip | 24 Feb 2015, 11:06 AM Agree 0
    The single element which really stood out for me is the partnership between the employee and employer. If discussions are occurring in a timely fashion because both the employee and employer have enough mutual respect and understanding to have open discussions and provide feedback, this can only lead to improved communication, teamwork and engagement. Which in turn will start to lead to a change in internal culture. Although Culbert’s explanation of performance reviews seem archaic, (or maybe it’s cultural), his message for regarding internal communication is duly noted.
  • Siobhan | 24 Feb 2015, 11:39 AM Agree 0
    The quality of any performance review system depends on the quality of the manager using it. Don't throw away performance reviews (which could be the only structured conversation where an employee gets formal, recorded feedback on their performance) up-skill managers to enable them to have performance-improving conversations throughout the year and when they conduct the formal annual performance appraisal. If the manager has been having quality performance-improving conversations throughout the year, the annual appraisal should be an employee-engaging event, where the employee gets recognition and/or feedback that will help them along their career path.
  • Jocelyn | 25 Feb 2015, 04:59 PM Agree 0
    The above comments seem quite indicative of insider thinking within the human resource community. I wonder if you would hold the same view if you worked in a business area outside HR?
  • heydawn | 07 Aug 2015, 03:15 AM Agree 0
    I've been managing staff for 20 years. People moving up in their careers keep thanking me for being their mentor, so I guess I've been doing something right. I've used a bunch of systems, tools, and processes and of course been a reviewer and I've been reviewed. The whole performance appraisal process has alwayhs stuck me a a big fat waste of time and wildly inefficient and wasteful. I give real time specific positive feedback (here's what you did that worked well) and corrective feedback (here's what you did or did not do, here's what I would like to see instead, here's an example, does that make sense?" I offer guidance, coaching, training from me or another staff member, or more on-the-job practice on less critical tasks to help an employee build skills. If I hire well, trust that people are doing their best, are sometimes in high-performance mode, sometimes in learning mode, and sometimes need to switch roles or tasks, everything goes well. I do not assume that professional adults need to be monitored and evaluated. We talk regularly. They ask questions. They know how they're doing because we have trust and communication, and they are grown ups! I have never had an "ah ha" moment in an appraisal with my boss and I do not believe any of the people who report to me have had an "ah ha" moment with me. They know (as I do) the areas in which they would like to develop. They do not need me to tell them. It's so weirdly paternalistic! Come on! I do make sure they know the strategic direction of the company. So, for example, software developers knew they needed to learn about mobile development and Agile methods five years ago, because I told them the direction the company was going in.

    Now, if anyone is worried about how you can fire someone without performance appraisals? Don't worry. We did abandon them as an experiment for one year at a small company. And, I did have to fire someone. So, I gave him negative performance feedback, documented it in writing, put him on 90 days probation, and gave him specific actions he needed to take to imrpve performance. He did not meet those objectives and I let him go. Our attorneys were fine with the approach. So, you see, not doing these ridiculous appraisals does not stop you from documentating poor performance, if necessary, and firing someone. Kill the appraisal. Everyone hates them. I have not even begun to go into the subjective nature of appraisals, how unfair they are, and how no matter how much objectivity you attempt to build into the process, they are inherently subjective. I have seen too many times on a 360 review detailed descriptions of performance described by person A and rated as excellent (5) and another detailed description by person B and rated as average (3). It depends on a reviewer's perspective, what s/he observed, what s/he values, and the relationship.
  • heydawn | 07 Aug 2015, 03:15 AM Agree 0
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