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Performance Reviews

Performance Reviews

How does your company handle performance reviews?

Dan McCarthy | Great Leadership

May 27, 2010

1. Most, if not all, managers hate writing them and hate delivering them. They hate them because it’s so hard to come up with new things to write about “communication” every year, they are time consuming and tedious, and delivering feedback about a performance issue is about as fun as getting a root canal.

2. Despite of that, a lot of managers, maybe even most, put a lot of work into the process, try to do a good job with them, and play by the rules that are handed to them. Despite the water-cooler and blog horror stories, the majority of managers are not complete morons.

3. Employees love getting positive reviews. They actually do take them home and show their family and hang them on the refrigerator. However, very few people enjoy or respond well to “constructive feedback”. Basic human fight or flight mechanisms take over. It doesn’t matter if it’s delivered once a year or once a day, it still feels the same. So if it’s not outstanding, employees hate them too.

4. No one should be immune from being evaluated, judged, graded, or scored. I don’t buy those philosophic arguments about power, status, human rights, etc… That’s part of life and being accountable. I always find it interesting when tenured academics write about the evils of performance reviews. In general, teachers and professors don’t like being evaluated or held accountable to begin with, so of course they can come up with all kinds of passionate arguments why no one else should.

5. HR managers are often the worst offenders when it comes to either not doing them or doing them poorly, yet the most vocal critics of managers who do them poorly (according to their unrealistic standards).

6. If you decide to try to “fix” your performance review system, be careful what you ask for. The solutions designed by well-meaning task forces, consultants, academics, HR, and rouge managers are often worse than the problems you’re trying to fix. They do, however, make very nice PowerPoint presentations.

7. Performance appraisal software can help make the process more efficient and effective – or make it all worse. It all depends on who’s doing the configuration.

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