Get Rid of the Performance Review!

So says UCLA professor Dr. Culbert in a recent Wall Street Journal article.


The performance review "destroys morale, kills teamwork and hurts the bottom line". And that's just for starters the author says.

Here are the key points (but please read the article because Dr. Culbert makes some very convincing arguments as to why companies should trash performance reviews and 360 assessments):

In a typical performance review, the boss wants to discuss where performance needs to improve while the person being reviewed wants to discuss compensation. Dr. Culbert argues that employee pay is determined by market forces with most jobs being put into a pay range before the employee is even hired. It has little to do with performance and forces the boss to make up excuses as to why the raise is lower than what the subordinate expected. And this discussion is what dominates the review. But the disconnect with pay is not the only reason Dr. Culbert despises performance reviews as you'll find out when reading the article.

So what's the alternative?

Dr. Culbert suggests performance "previews" where the assignment of the boss is to guide, coach, tutor and do whatever else is required to assist a subordinate to perform successfully. Realistic assessment of someone's qualities requires replacing scores on standardized checklists with inquiry. The manager should make sure the employee understands the nature of their job assignment (read what Peter Drucker says about this topic in a previous blog posting) and has the tools and resources to get the job done successfully - and how the boss and the subordinate can complement one another in getting work done with excellence. Dr. Culbert also thinks the manager should be held equally accountable for the success or failure of an employee. Too often, argues Dr. Culbert, subordinates fail and get fired while their bosses get promoted. Performance previews should not be held annually but anytime either the manager or subordinate feels they are not working well together.

This is a very interesting read for any manager but also for companies in the business of performance appraisals and 360 assessments who are looking for ways to improve their product and/or messaging. Check it out.