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Performance Reviews

Fix, Don't Nix, Your Performance Reviews

Image credit: Startup Stock
Guest Writer
Partner in Employment Practice Group of Duane Morris

Once again, performance reviews are under attack. Some management gurus have even called for their elimination. And a few big-name companies, such as Accenture, have already complied. But the idea of gutting reviews is nothing new. As long ago as 2000, a number of management mavens recommended “86-ing” them.

Related: Stop Delaying: 3 Surefire Ways to Do Employee Reviews Properly 

Why the renewed assault? Here are the four reasons I hear most commonly:

On the one hand, there is no doubt that the above concerns have some legitimacy. On the other, performance reviews offer a number of valuable purposes: 

Related: You Can Know What Employees Are Doing Without Being Big Brother

Here are some recommendations to retain the value of appraisals, yet at the same time mitigate their potential pitfalls:

Three examples that illustrate the need for training include: (a) the risk of over-evaluation (legal evidence of "pretext" if subsequent adverse action is filed); (b) the lack of wisdom in using labels without behavioral examples (it's easier to challenge labels than defined behaviors); and (c) the impugning of an employee's intent, with phrases like “you are not trying” (this is a personal attack that invites litigation; lack of intent cannot be proven, so intent is largely irrelevant).

Overall, there are problems with our hiring systems. But we don’t scrap them. There are problems with our comp systems. But we don’t scrap those, either. Why should performance reviews be different?

So, fix them, don’t nix them.

Related: 3 Reasons You Should Kick That Annual Review Tradition to the Curb