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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


  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

Join The Conversation
Beauty Beauty 8 years
I think evaluations are great, and honestly, I like to have them more than once a year. Everyone needs feedback as to what they should keep up and what they could improve on.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
Just a tidbit: Two years ago i was going through a seperation with my husband and was very sad about it, It didnt however affect my work performance but in my evaluation i was told that i needed to be "more perky" around the office because i was bumming people out!!!! It was actually in my evaluation "employee needs to be more PERKY"
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
I have found that performace reviews/employee evaluations are usually subjective, counter productive and a waste of time. I have been in the same position for 4 years, and I did an experiment based on having two years in a row of evaluations I thought were a bit unfair and biased. I work for the state so I could strangle someone and they wouldnt fire me, ....anyway....last year I made every single deadline, dotted my "I"s and crossed my "T"s volunteered for extra work , never was late, never left early, and two weeks before my supervisor asked all my coworkers (to whom I do secretarial work for) for their comments on my work performance I slacked off ever so slightly, missed one or two non emergency deadlines, didnt fax something ONCE and left early ONCE. On my evaluation I got the comments that "I need to prioritize my workload so that deadlines can be met" And something about finding busy work to do when the normal workload is slow!!!! SO my whole year of being stellar? was pooped on for two instances FRESH in their minds of my mistakes. Believe me I raised holy heck. I have also raised the question as to why my coworkers, who arent my supervisors being allowed to contribute to my evaluation when in fact they have no bearing on my job stability what so ever and In turn I am not allowed to say anything about thier work performances which directly influence my job!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that they can be helpful, but a lot of the time they are hurtful. for myself - i've always gotten good reviews and i would have assumed that i would see the benefits of that in my pay check, but that's not happened so far. it's kind of upsetting, it makes me wonder why i even bother to do a good job. i know though that when i give reviews, i always worry that i'm going to upset people with what i have to say since i don't believe in lying about performance, i'm honest but with a really 'soft hand'
hippiecowgirl hippiecowgirl 8 years
My boss makes our reviews pretty laid-back and casual. At the end, he always asks if he's said anything that we disagree with. They're still not fun, but they're not torture.
Jmartens Jmartens 8 years
All depends on how the company handles them. They can be productive or unproductive. Some companies use annual performance reviews to point out the employees weaknesses while others use the time to applaud the strengths. Which do you think is more productive?
Dhorwich Dhorwich 8 years
At my current company I've found annual performance reviews to be very helpful. My input on my own performance is solicited by my supervisor in advance and at the actual meeting we discuss my thoughts as well as hers (which also includes thoughts from her supervisor, our department head). They do pre-determine any salary increases and/or bonuses in advance but I am involved in that process because I fill out my own detailed evaluation. And all factors have been taken into consideration at any evaluations between formal ones - like the one which recently got new an improved title/promotion. The annual review also lets me know what is expected of me in the coming months so I can be sure to meet all expectations, and then surpass them so my next self-evaluation is a slam dunk upon my boss's review. It is all about long-term strategy I think.
Dr-No Dr-No 8 years
We just started doing annual reviews at my school. I thought it would be a good opportunity to talk to my advisor about what things I need to focus on, where I need to improve, etc. As a matter of fact, I supported it before they showed us what the annual review would consist of. But then I saw the form we had to fill out. It was really mindless information, like regurgitating my transcript! When I got my review back, it didn't seem to go through my advisor at any time during the review process, just other professors in my department. And I was REALLY irritated by my review. Not that it was bad, but they said "Three publications is satisfactory progress." Nevermind that the first publication took years of work on a problem that neither my advisor nor I thought would take so much time to solve. I felt like it was insensitive, and now I'm sort of disenchanted with the whole thing. To hell with annual reviews!
sorrowja sorrowja 8 years
The performance review is simply the place where the boss comes up with a story to justify the predetermined pay - Based on pass reviews I so totally agree.
sonya-ina sonya-ina 8 years
Luckily my boss has never made a big deal about performance reviews. We have them yearly on the anniversary of our start date, and he makes sure to make them informal and more informational and constructive than anything else.
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