Get Rid of the Performance Review—Amen Brother!

I have never really been motivated by money.  And, I have long ago ceased needing to have my ego stroked by hearing that I am good at what I do.  So, where then does the performance review process leave me?  Flat I guess.

I wholeheartedly agree that the performance review process is a farce at best and criminally insane at worst.  Over the years, I have worked for the gamut of different types of companies…from an employee owned marketing research supplier to several Fortune 100 companies.  And you know what, I can say with a large degree of certainty that these performance reviews have been little more than the system punishing me in the following manner: 1) most of the performance evaluation systems I have experienced have had a forced ranking component, meaning that only a very small number of individuals could receive the best score and just a bit larger percentage could get the second best score.  Most individuals had to fall into the “solid performer” mix and 2) the scores I received on my reviews generally did not match the write up of the performance that was supposed to explain the scores I received.  The funniest (ironic) thing I experienced with the second “punishment” happened years ago when a friend in HR said she had seen my performance review and to me that she thought that my boss was a tough grader, especially considering the write up he had given me.  Interestingly, that conversation left me feeling vindicated rather than deflated.  Someone (albeit with no clout or authority to help) had seen my inequity and apologized for it!

So if it was a perfect world, I would be able to say “hey, let’s not waste the hour going through your personal feelings about me relative to the others in our department.  I’ve got work to do.”  But, back in the real world….I just sit and take it, thank him for the kind words, promise to do better over the next year and be on my way.

That said, I am not so sure I agree with Samuel A Culbert’s assessment of using the coaching session as a substitute for a performance appraisal.  While I do agree that an alternative must be found, the coaching session will only be successful if the manager and subordinate both understand the purpose of the coaching session and actively work to make the session productive.  If we fail annually, how do we expect to be successful on a bi-weekly basis? My employer has bi-weekly coaching sessions.  For some, who have the right boss and subordinate, this type of team work is successful.  However, for a majority of employees and bosses, these sessions are little more than a run down of current work, the boss telling the employee all the things he/she is doing wrong and end with the ironic “what can I do to help you accomplish your goals over the next two weeks?”  

And now, back to work…there’s still a lot of work to be done.

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