Nov 4, 2006

About Performance Reviews

HBS Working Knowledge has an article titled - What's to Be Done About Performance Reviews?

It asks: What can we do to make performance reviews more productive and less distasteful? Should their objectives be scaled back to just one or two? Should they be disengaged from the determination of compensation and, if so, how? As managers, should we invest time to keep a day-to-day scorecard on individual qualitative and quantitative performance and feed back impressions to employees on an ongoing basis? Should periodic performance reviews be relatively incidental as opposed to regular coaching "in the moment"?

My view on performance reviews/appraisals is very simple, and I think hasn't received too much attention.

The success of forced ranking lies in good goal planning. In fact for any appraisal system the input (goals) have to be good. Otherwise what comes out (results) is useless and gives rise to heartburn ! The problem with goals is that they are ritualistically set once a year and rarely updated as reality changes.

As employees we go out and renegotiate contracts with customers and vendors, so why do we never renegotiate our goals with our bosses?


  1. Dr. Harry Levinson wrote a classic HBR article entitled "Management by Whose Objectives?"

    He astutely pointed out that when objectives are set to manipulate - they rarely reach their intended consequences - and often produce unintended consequences.

    Forced ranking forces fear. Mr. Welch and his devotees can continue to extol its virtues, but its theoretically flawed. It presumes that employees are selected randomly. See my post on this topic at my blog at the url listed below.

    robert edward cenek

  2. Very entertaining issue. I haven't heard of this one. It will be necessary to visit you on a thicket!