Performance appraisals just can’t get a break

January 6, 2012 at 12:07 pm 2 comments

If you are still doing traditional performance appraisals, here’s another industry expert who may just convince you to abandon your annual reviews. Dr. John Sullivan’s recent article “The Top 50 Problems with Performance Appraisals” is an impressive listing of what’s wrong with the typical annual performance review. He joins Samuel Culbert, author of “Get Rid of the Performance Review,” in stinging commentary about the ubiquitous workplace practice.

Here are a few of Sullivan’s intriguing insights:

• Performance reviews are too personal. They don’t assess measureable output, but instead focus on personal traits, such as commitment, or on technical knowledge. Sullivan says that performance should be measured by quality, volume, responsiveness, and bottom-line value.

• There’s no penalty for delivering poor performance reviews. Companies focus on whether evaluations have been completed, rather than on the quality of the review. Sullivan shares an extreme example of a company that wanted to terminate a difficult employee. When they reviewed the personnel files, they found the manager had given that worker the highest ranking in the department and even recognized that person as employee of the year.

• The process is daunting. In desperation to complete reviews, managers may recycle comments from previous years.

What are your managers’ biggest challenges with the review process? Do you foresee a time when companies may eliminate the traditional performance review system?


Entry filed under: HR Management, Management, Performance Reviews. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Karen  |  January 9, 2012 at 8:22 am

    We have stopped doing performance evaluations while we develop a system that is directed by the employee, one that focuses upon the employee’s needs and aspirations (or whatever the employee wants to focus upon). We will have a separate performance improvement plan for employees who need support to perform effectively.

    • 2. Briefings Media Group  |  January 9, 2012 at 11:56 am


      You’re on top of this issue. It would be great to keep in touch to learn how your new system affects performance and engagement.


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