Keep the Performance Review, Trash the Bad Manager

For years there have been arguments for and against the performance review. There are many who diss the process, wanting to get rid of the actual review itself. There are others who feel it is a bedrock of information for both employee development, self checks, collecting historical data on the employee and as a way to evaluate the way a manager simply manages.

The performance review can be bad but it can also be great.

Idiots lay blame solely on a tool

if you lay blame on a tool, then that is what you are! There are valid reasons to blame your legacy system or the vendor platform you use to manage the reporting of performance. If you are an organization that can't fork over the cash for a huge system, you may have problems with the process of implementing and getting the reviews turned in. But those who simply blame the tool or process are idiots.

It is my belief that if you had managers that were competent enough to do the job they were given, saw examples from their previous bosses, had recieved training, practice and the ability to manage their employees effectively (not just the person but also their development and performance), then you would not need the systems and deep processes. Those who blame tools are blaming band-aids for an injury rather than understanding why the injury is there in the first place.

A performance review can be bad

However the performance review is absolutely wrong if it is done only once or twice a year. This is because the all that happens within a review process is not all formal. You have to include informal talks, coaching and checks. It is not a question whether or not the review is done, but when and how often. But sadly, once detailed objectives are agreed upon and benchmarks given... that is when people usually wait until the next year to talk again.

Botome line: It's not the review that is bad, it's the approach and management around the review that is broken. I think many people fault a tool when they would rather not fix the person! Blaming tools is easy, fixing people is the tough part.

Those are my thoughts. What are yours? Ditch the performance review or fix the process and people around it?

Connect with Benjamin on

Twitter and at his blog

Views: 1342

Comment by Paul Hanchett on September 1, 2010 at 1:00pm
Benjamin, I think you are absolutely right on. I personally have had reviews that were great tools for enhancing my performance, and others that bore no relation whatever to either my performance or value to the company.

The danger in having a manager review their employee is two fold: First, the tendency can be to blame the employee for failure to overcome situations that no one could surrmount (see Fundamental Attribution Error.

Second and more insidious is the manager's own failure to understand their own thinking processes and biases, and their belief that they have the sole right to judge and counsel their employee. The danger is that they, in good conscience, can give bad advice to their employees from a position of power over the employee.

Counselors have a certification and licensing process they must go through in order to give advice that touches people's lives. Managers do not!

And, of course there is always the manager that passes blame on to their people as a CYA maneuver. Unfortunately, subordinates rarely have any sort of protection against this behavior.


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