Abolishing Performance Appraisals, Coen/Jenkins

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
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#1
Abolishing Performance Appraisals, Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins

This is an excellent book going into detail about the problems and destructive nature of the annual performance review. The book begins by educating the reader on the traditional assumptions we hold about the performance review process and the plain absurdity of these assumptions. The book continues by suggesting alternate methods to performance review, namely continues feedback, citing several examples of paper and paperless methods as well as numerous anecdotes and case studies to drive points home. The book also presents to the reader a method to give ‘feedback’ as the importance of how you give and receive feedback is as important as the feedback itself.
 
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Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#2
I was sad to learn today of the passing of Tom Coens. Tom passed away just before Christmas last year after a short battle with cancer.

My last contact with Tom happened sometime last November where by he stated to me that he was in good spirits and up to the battle. It gave me relief to hear this as he had become an important figure in my life and I wished to continue our learning together. He was a great facilitator in learning and continues to be in many ways. I eagerly await the release of his last book due out sometime this Spring/Summer.

Back sometime near 1992, another gifted pioneer in the abolishment of appraisal systems spoke to a well renowned consultant and author, Peter Scholtes. As the story goes, Peter was speaking with Dr. Deming about the abolishment of the appraisal system as with the unnecessary relative rankings of people. Peter said to Dr. Deming that he agreed with him with regards to these unnecessary, useless, and destructive practices, but asked him how he was going to get his word out. Dr. Deming looked at Peter and said that it was up to him to decide how that was going to be done. Being 92 years old, it was a logical expectation. Beyond that, Peter’s own work in spreading the word for the abolishment of appraisals was already underway and he had a growing following. Tom was amongst his many followers along with Mary Jenkins who co-authored the book, Abolishing Performance Appraisals. Tom and Mary have both dedicated a significant amount of their time in the promotion of the idea of removing the Performance Appraisal Paradigm.

During the 2001 Deming Conference, Tom was billed as one of the Keynote Speakers for the event. Not 5 minutes into the presentation, Tom asked Peter, who was in the audience, to stand up. Peter, who is in failing health, rose to an ovation. Tom, in choked up words, expressed his gratitude. We all shared his gratitude. Peter, a great and gentle man in his own right, passed along almost ceremoniously the work that had befallen him 9 years earlier. Peter was thrilled to have Tom with his energy and enthusiasms continue with the promotion of the need to reject the notion that performance appraisals are good for everyone. Everyone in the room was equally thrilled. There were many tear filled eyes and tears running down the cheeks of those who attended. It was one of the most powerful experiences of my life as the room was electric with the karma of these men. I will miss Tom.

Regards,

Kevin
:(
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#3
performance reviews

Kevin,

This can be a very interesting topic. I have been with my current employer for almost 9 years, and NEVER had a formal performance review. We just don't do them. I have found that most employees could care less what goes on the review, they just want to see what gets added to the paycheck. I think most resonable people believe that as long as they are still employed, and the boss hasn't reprimanded you for any serious issues, your performance is satisfactory.

Just some thoughts.

CarolX
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#4
Kevin,

Sorry to hear of the loss of your friend.

It sounds to me like, despite the title of the book, they aren't really advocating abolishing performance appraisals at all, they are simply suggesting they be done in a different way. So they say drop the once-a-year "review" and do it more often or in different ways. Regardless, formally or informally, you are still measuring the performance of an individual and reporting on this measurement. One way or another, IMO, you can't get completely away from determining how an employee is performing. Am I missing something?
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#6
Marc,

What is a "continum of life"?

Maybe you meant "continuum" of life??

Was that an answer to my question? If that post was intended as an insult toward me perhaps you should at least learn to spell your insults correctly. :vfunny:

You and Tom make a real pair! When you can't argue rationally, which is often the case because of your positions, one of the few options you have left is to name-call and throw out insults. Grand job! What do you do for an encore, teach college-level persuasive writing perhaps?? :rolleyes: :smokin:
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#7
Carol,

That is great to hear. Your organization is in the growing minority. We have brought it up here a few times, but it hasn't generated a lot of discussion. Perhaps it is worth tabling again.

Mike,

Actually, Tom and Mary titled the book in a fashion where they thought the mainstream would likely pick it up and keep reading the book. A consultant friend of mine who worked with Tom specifically titles his presentations in a similar fashion as not to push off potential converts. In both of their experience, by not offering the possibility of a supplementary task, folks would tend not to read/preview your offering. It is mostly a tactical manuever. You know what they say, replace one obsession with another. ;)

I think that Marc's comments were directed to my relating how the 'torch' seemed to be passed from Deming to Scholtes to Coens. I do not think it was an attempt to insult you in any way.

As for the worth of measuring folks, well, this is an area of interest that I have studied for a good while now. My conclusions are very similar to those presented by a host of knowledgeable folks including the above mentioned folks as well as a few others, notably Alfie Kohn, Myron Tribus, David Langford and Peter Senge. Many others have contributed to my position which is that rating and ranking of people in unnecessary, unhelpful, and destructive. This contrary and radical viewpoint is difficult to accept in many societies, especially here in the US where 'competition' is used as a means-to-an-end rather than a building place for innovation and excellence. For all of our lives, we have been reinforced on a steady diet of competition, rewards, and consequences to the point where the inherent qualities we are born with are suppressed to a lower active state. Carol is probably right in that we should revisit this topic. Lots of smart folks here that might have something to add to a discussion.

Marc,

It is the continuum of life. Seeing it does make you pause for a moment to reflect upon one's self, the action (or inaction), and helps to put things into perspective. I am thankful for the opportunities like this that help to make sense of this place.

Regards,

Kevin
 
K

Ken K

#8
Kevin,

I am sorry to hear about the passing of Tom. From reading your post, he was someone you respected and admired and I feel your loss.

Ken
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#9
Originally posted by Kevin Mader


Mike,

As for the worth of measuring folks, well, this is an area of interest that I have studied for a good while now. My conclusions are very similar to those presented by a host of knowledgeable folks including the above mentioned folks as well as a few others, notably Alfie Kohn, Myron Tribus, David Langford and Peter Senge. Many others have contributed to my position which is that rating and ranking of people in unnecessary, unhelpful, and destructive. This contrary and radical viewpoint is difficult to accept in many societies, especially here in the US where 'competition' is used as a means-to-an-end rather than a building place for innovation and excellence. For all of our lives, we have been reinforced on a steady diet of competition, rewards, and consequences to the point where the inherent qualities we are born with are suppressed to a lower active state. Carol is probably right in that we should revisit this topic. Lots of smart folks here that might have something to add to a discussion.

Regards,

Kevin
Maybe I'm the dense one here. I don't suggest that I'm intellectually on par with the knowledgeable folks you mention, nor have I studied the subject as much as you obviously have. But from what I see of human nature, and what I feel as a human (despite some assertions to the contrary by others), I do not believe that eliminating "rating, ranking, and competition" among humans will ever work, nor do I think that anyone (okay, anyone other than maybe a small fraction of 1 percent) actually practices this in their daily life, so getting it out of the work life is next to impossible, IMO. From our choice of friends, mates, co-workers, doctors, and a host of other people relationships we have we rate and rank people. I believe it is an almost inborn trait to want to compete, to rank ones self and be ranked. It just seems like basic human behavior.

Now, are there different/better ways to do this in the employment arena based on the situation? Sure! There are different ways to do almost anything, some much better than others. I've never been a fan of the annual "review" that many (most?) managers do very poorly even within the constraints of that particular technique, so I can't defend that method. But I also can't swallow the idea of elimination of "rating, ranking, and competition" -- at least not yet.

One quick example pops into mind: If you (or the experts you mention) are the owner/manager of a baseball team, do you still eliminate "rating, ranking, and competition"? Is your lineup a random shuffling of the players' names, or do you make your lineup based on the strengths and weaknesses of the players (fast guy to lead-off, power-hitter in the cleanup spot, etc.)? How do you decide who makes the team in the first place? Do you eliminate stats of batting average, on-base percentage, wins and losses? I'd like to see the experts answer that one.

JMO.
 
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