Human Resources News & Insights

15 questions to make you think twice about performance reviews

Performance reviews are a sticky subject — and no one knows that better than Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA. Check out his set of cogent questions in this Guest Post and see if your answers change the way you look at your organization’s review procedures.

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It’s that time of year again: Time for the boss and employee to sit down and discuss how things have been going – and where they should be heading.

  1. Ask yourself: Do either employees or managers ever look forward to a performance review? (To help answer that question, click here.)
  2. One of the alleged advantages of performance reviews is that they are objective evaluations by the person who knows your work best. Yet if performance reviews are objective, why do surveys show that more than half of employees get completely different reviews if they are rated by a second boss?
  3. Many companies rank on a curve, making sure that not everybody gets a top grade. If you knew that only three people in your department could get the highest ranking on a performance review, would you be more or less inclined to help your colleagues succeed?
  4. In a 360-degree review, colleagues above, below and at your level anonymously offer their view of your strengths and weaknesses. Do you think your colleagues are in a position to know what those are?
  5. In many performance reviews, bosses ask employees for their thoughts on how to improve operations in the department. If that happens, how honest would you be?
  6. In giving a performance review, have you ever shaded the truth– perhaps out of concern for the other person’s feelings, or because you had your own agenda in what you wanted the employee to do?
  7. How often has a boss told you what he or she thought about an issue, and then asked you what you thought about it…
  8. … And how often did you feel the boss really wanted to know your opinion?
  9. Companies typically say that individual pay is determined by the performance review. But when setting pay, which do you think comes first: pay decisions or the performance review?
  10. A common argument for performance reviews is that they make it easier to fire weak employees. If you’ve ever been sued by a former employee, did the paper trail provided by performance reviews help your case – or hurt it?
  11. Do you think bosses have their own agendas in evaluating employees, or do you think their only agenda is giving an employee an honest appraisal?
  12. If you feel you have a weakness that’s affecting your productivity, would you admit it to your boss in a performance review?
  13. It seems few people like to give or get reviews. So, where does the support for performance reviews come from: bosses, employees or the human-resources department?
  14. Most performance reviews require managers to put a specific number on an employee’s evaluation. Do you think having that number makes performance reviews objective, or just makes it sound objective?
  15. Have you ever seen any evidence that performance reviews improve a company’s bottom line?

Samuel Culbert is a researcher and full-time tenured professor at UCLA Anderson School of Management in Los Angeles. Culbert holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and is an author of numerous books, including Get Rid of the Performance Review! How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing — and Focus on What Really Matters.

 

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