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Are Performance Reviews Counter-Productive?


We are nearing the end of the year and many companies are gearing up for annual employee performance reviews. There isn't universal support for this type of review process that often involves written feedback from managers regarding their employees, usually presented in person in a one-on-one or two-on-one format. Samuel L. Colbert for The Wall Street Journal writes, "It destroys morale, kills teamwork and hurts the bottom line. And that's just for starters." Colbert backs up his opinion with an argument featuring seven points. Do you agree with his idea to get rid of performance reviews?

  1. Two people, two mind-sets."The boss wants to discuss where performance needs to be improved, while the subordinate is focused on such small issues as compensation, job progression and career advancement. At best, the discussion accomplishes nothing."
  2. Performance doesn't determine pay. "The performance review is simply the place where the boss comes up with a story to justify the predetermined pay."
  3. Objectivity is subjective. "The closest one can get to "objective" feedback is making an evaluator's personal preferences, emotional biases, personal agendas and situational motives for giving feedback sufficiently explicit."

See four more points when you read more.

  1. One size does not fit all. And yet in a performance review, employees are supposed to be measured along some predetermined checklist. This is why pleasing the boss so often becomes more important than doing a good job."
  2. Personal development is impeded. Employees are reluctant to turn to their bosses for help in improving because they fear admitted weaknesses will come back to them.
  3. Disruption to teamwork. "The boss in the performance review thinks of himself or herself as the evaluator, and doesn't engage in teamwork with the subordinate."
  4. Immorality of justifying corporate improvement. "Instead of stimulating corporate effectiveness, [performance reviews] lead to just-in-case and cover-your-behind activities that reduce the amount of time that could be put to productive use."
  5. Source

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