There’s been a lot of press lately about eliminating performance reviews since Accenture announced that they were getting rid of their evaluation process.  Hating reviews isn’t exactly new, so why are they suddenly the new death star?

For one, managers (including me) hate doing them.   Why?  Consider this:

  • They hurt collaboration – Great leaders develop relationships with their employees. Shifting from day-to-day collaboration to an evaluation process is never going to be a smooth transition.
  • They destroy confidence – We know that we will be below average at something, but we are trained to rarely think of ourselves that way. The average school GPA is a 3.2 on a 4.0 point scale.  The average review score is a 3.0 on a 5.0 point scale – or essentially a C.  So when we are in school, the majority of us are B students.  When we get into the workforce where our livelihoods depend on being successful, our average performance scores drop.  This is not the way to inspire confidence.
  • They are arbitrary – What does “meets expectations” really mean anyway?

But should they be eliminated entirely?

My vote is “no.”  Here’s why:  People want and deserve feedback.  We tried to eliminate reviews at HRM and it didn’t work.  Most of us are competitive by nature.  To feed our competitive appetite, we need feedback, goals, and the knowledge that we are growing.

What do we recommend?  Regular coaching sessions.  We do this monthly.  We talk about goals, what has happened, what’s going well and what’s not.  On both sides.  We also talk about what’s next.  If folks are honest with each other, these can be powerful conversations.

My favorite boss once told me that the best review he ever received was given to him on the back of a matchbook cover.  I’m not sure what was written there, but it was the right set-up for a healthy and candid conversation.

On an annual basis, we encourage our customers to utilize behaviorally anchored reviews based on the job competencies, with no scoring system.  Don’t you need a score?  No, actually you don’t.  As one of our favorite customers stated:  “If you have a debate during the review over the score, you’ve lost.”

What you should do is provide feedback and direction.  That’s the key.

What are your experiences with the review process?  Drop me a note, I’d love to hear.

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