Eliminate Performance Reviews!

Samuel Culbert interviewed on NPR.

Employee performance reviews should be eliminated, according to UCLA business professor Samuel Culbert. “First, they’re dishonest and fraudulent. And second, they’re just plain bad management,”

There’s also an excerpt from Culbert’s book, Get Rid of the Performance Review! He doesn’t pull any punches.

It’s time to finally put the performance review out of its misery.

This corporate sham is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities. Everybody does it, and almost everyone who’s evaluated hates it. It’s a pretentious, bogus practice that produces absolutely nothing that any thinking executive should call a corporate plus.

And yet few people do anything to kill it.

How could that be? How could something so obviously destructive, so universally despised, continue to plague our workplaces?

In part it’s because the performance review is all executives have ever known, and they’re blind to the damage caused by it.

In part it’s because few managers are aware of their addiction to the fear that reviews create amongst staff, and too many lack the confidence that they can lead without that fear.

In part it’s because HR professionals exploit the performance review to provide them a power base they don’t deserve.

And in part it’s because few people know an alter-native for getting the control, accountability, and employee development that reviews supposedly produce—but never do…

They fail to realize the most essential tool they have in getting quality performances is a trusting relationship with the people who work for them. It’s really that simple. If they understood this, there never would be something as stupidly one-sided as a performance review that is defined by domination by the boss.

As you know, putting an end ratings, rankings, and annual evaluations has been one of my personal crusades for some time.  Glad to have some company.

I suspect many managers would be happy to dispense with reviews.  But reviews are inextricably tied to another damaging practice, so-called merit pay.  So if we want to get rid of performance reviews, we have to get rid of the illusion of merit-pay, too.

A few ideas about what to do instead in an article I wrote a couple of years ago.