Sock It To Me

As the corporate year begins to wind down, I look forward to the annual performance appraisal where my boss tells me what he thinks of me: how I did, what my strengths are, my weaknesses, and whether I'll be getting a raise or not.

If you believe the above, I have a bridge to sell you.

There are a lot of problems with performance review as it is typically done in corporate America: top-down, forced-fit, controlling, non-negotiable.

The great W. Edwards Deming wrote that evaluation of performance, merit ratings, and annual reviews of employee performance comprise the third of his "Seven Deadly Diseases" of management. Why? Because there is often a conflict between these practices and the values of Quality.

The values of Quality that Deming cared so much about include:
- customer focus
- systems thinking
- teamwork
- process improvement
- and fact-based decision making using measurement

One more value that Deming was passionate about involves how employees are treated. For Deming, the motivation and development of employees was tremendously important, yet very difficult, requiring a high degree of focus and skill on the part of supervisors and managers.

As an OD guy, I look at performance review in what I think is a practical way. To the extent that an organization's performance management process supports these values, it's a good thing. To the extent that it detracts from these values, it is a danger and should be considered a candidate for the corporate scrap heap.


Don Blohowiak said…

Would you agree that there is an important difference between providing performance feedback on an on-going basis, and the annual performance review?

Managers do need to provide information about execution and personal performance, ideally immediately following direct observation. But that is so much different from the yearly ritual I like to call, "the Annual Sneak Attack."

Good luck with your performance review. Come prepared with all your invisible victories that probably escaped notice! (Competence often calls no attention to itself and operates invisibly.)

Don Blohowiak
Terrence said…
Hey Don

Welcome to my humble blog.

Yes, I would agree there is a difference between on-going feedback and the annual end-of-year review. I'll let you guess which I prefer. (Hint: It's probably the same one that you do.)

Best regards,

curiouscat said…
Deming also said "if we eliminate performance appraisals, as you suggest, what do we do instead?" Dr. Deming's reply: "Whatever Peter Scholtes says."
Terrence said…
Hey curious cat

Welcome to my blog.

Greetings from NJ!

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