I spent 27 years — more than half my life — at one company.
My worst memories: the annual performance evaluations. They created dread among staffers and were one of the reasons I chose to resign in 2011.
Rigid job reviews devastate employee morale and wreck any sense of shared mission between workers and management. Oppressive performance reviews create an us-vs.-them mentality that stifles enthusiasm and problem solving.
When a company is struggling, its adherence to performance reviews further infuriates the rank-and-file. The bosses, instead of trying to right the ship and navigate a sound course, are spending valuable time beating up on low-ranking employees who don’t set policy.
Few actually like performance evaluations
Small-minded HR executives may be the only people who like job reviews. Evaluations produce an arbitrary, unyielding grade that HR folks can stamp on an employee. That grade, like a tattoo that can’t be removed, accompanies the worker until he or she gets fired or quits.
How sad — and unnecessary
I delight whenever I see workplace experts — I’m certainly no expert — bash the corporate obession with annual performance reviews.
“Why do we continue to let yesterday hold tomorrow hostage with the antiquated annual performance appraisal process that demonstrably doesn’t work?” writes Ron Baker, who runs an employment think tank, on Linked In. “Are we not capable of doing better?
He says the fundamental purpose of a company is to create great ideas — not develop administrative processes.
Why they’re a bad idea
In another article, Baker lists the flaws of rigid job reviews:
- They “focus on the weakness of the worker rather than his or her strengths.”
- “Effective feedback should occur as needed, not on an arbitrary date on a calendar.”
- Reviews “are a symbol of a paternalistic boss-subordinate relationship based on command and control …”
- Evaluations “impose a one-size-fits-all approach that impedes relevant, authentic feedback to different individuals.”
Some corporate types would say rigid performance reviews are necessary for legal reasons, to build a case against an employee who needs to be fired.
False, Baker contends.
“Most workers in the United States are employees at will,” he says. “They can be fired for any reason, or no reason at all, with or without warning.”
In some settings, such as school, firm evaluation standards need to be in place. I’d never advocate doing away with grades at my son’s middle school.
But a workplace is not the same as a school campus. On the job, every employee — from top to bottom — should be valued and encouraged to contribute to the company’s success.
Stop the madness
Workers who feel like they’re being inspected — instead of respected — are far less inclined to develop original ideas to advance the company. Instead, employees worry about meeting some phony metrics developed by an out-of-touch manager who never did their job.
As a result, individual performance suffers. The company as a whole suffers. Everyone loses — thanks to an archaic management tool that has been proven counterproductive.
Ditch annual performance reviews.