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05/19 2013

Time to End the Performance Review?

Is it time to end workplace reviews and the so-called performance management process?  The answer is “yes”, according to UCLA professor Samuel Culbert.

Culbert — who published 2011’s “Get Rid of the Performance Review!  How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing — and Focus on Getting Results That Really Matter” claims that companies practicing performance previewsnot reviews — will get the best results.

By a performance preview, Culbert means a joint goal-setting session between employees and managers that sets performance expectations up-front, and then positions the supervisor as an ongoing resource to discuss progress, to help overcome performance obstacles, and to provide regular feedback on performance.   With this future-focused approach, an emphasis is placed on supervisor and subordinate working together as partners to achieve objectives, each with a vested interest in success.   Specifically, this discussion should focus on how the supervisor and subordinate will partner together even more effectively in the future than they have in the past.

Culbert claims that these performance previews should replace the tradition performance review, which is a top-down, one-sided discussion where managers discuss past performance with subordinates.   According to Culbert, the typical performance review is subjective, focuses on past situations that cannot be changed, and typically discourage input from subordinates.

But what about poor performers who need to be removed from the organization?  Culbert argues that adopting the performance preview model will actually facilitate more straight-talk discussions about poor performers, and will actually expedite the process of dealing with poor performers.   Of course, he sees the performance preview approach as minimizing the actual number of poor performers in an organization.

Culbert notes that in order to be successful, such performance previews need to embedded in the overall corporate culture of the organization — and that higher-level managers need to lead by example in incorporating this approach.  Furthermore, individual employees need to take responsibility for their own development under such a system, and employees also need to solicit feedback on their performance throughout the year.

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