Performance Apraisals Revisited - Abolishing Performance Appraisals

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#1
I know this subject has been disucced before in other threads, but a recent discussion started in the book reivew section here and I thought it worthy to start a new thread. I thought this might be a good spot to discuss the value of performance appraisals without tying it in to ISO9K2K. I know many use the yearly review to satisfy the competancy requirement, but how about a discussion of the value of "yearly" appraisals.



From Kevin's book review

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.


I added what happen's here at my company….

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


So perhaps we could revisit this topic…..any takers?

CarolX
 
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Craig H.

#2
Carol:

You asked we not refer to ISO, but there is a relevant section that could tie into the way I think about this topic.

We should (even sans ISO cert) review how we are doing vs. what our goals are. To me, the relevant part concerning appraisal of an individual (if we must do an appraisal) is how well the person is fitting in with their "piece" of the goals as a whole. If the fit could be better (as it most likely could be) then the question is "what needs to change to improve the person's performance within the group?"

This way, the appraisal is tied directly to what the company is doing.

Of course, I'm no expert in this area...

Craig
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#3
Carol,

As I said in the other thread, I think the title of the book (Abolishing Performance Appraisals) is a misnomer. They're not really proposing abolishing them, they're proposing doing them differently than the "yearly review" many of are familiar with. The title is a marketing ploy.

You and I both know that your performance has been evaluated many, many times in the last 9 years. Maybe they did not write it all down, maybe it was not called a "review" or "performance appraisal" and maybe you were not told about it, but it happened, right? And I'll bet the authors review the performance of their employees, if they have any under them, as well.

Sounds like your company uses the "no news is good news" method, which is also not one I would personally employ.

My position is that individual performance appraisals in one form or another, no matter what you choose to call it, will never stop, nor should it. JMO.
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#4
you are right

Originally posted by Mike S.


You and I both know that your performance has been evaluated many, many times in the last 9 years. Maybe they did not write it all down, maybe it was not called a "review" or "performance appraisal" and maybe you were not told about it, but it happened, right? And I'll bet the authors review the performance of their employees, if they have any under them, as well.

Sounds like your company uses the "no news is good news" method, which is also not one I would personally employ.

Absolutely right, Mike. I can't say that I completely support this type of system, and it doens't work for everyone here. Some guys in the shop don't get a raise unless they ask for one. And I don't agree with that. I suppoese there must be some middle ground.



Craig,

You asked we not refer to ISO, but there is a relevant section that could tie into the way I think about this topic
Without a doubt. I guess I would like to see discussion on how people are doing things and what works and doesn't work. Then we can adapt a method to satisfy the requirments. I would rather leave the details to the 9K2K board.

Regards,
CarolX
 

Kevin Mader

One of THE Original Covers!
Staff member
Admin
#5
Mike,

Actually, the book does not endorse performance appraisals of any kind. While better than 95% of the books out there speak to problems with the implementation of Performance Appraisal Programs, very few challenge the notion that the program itself is questionable. In Tom’s words, “It has become a right of passage.” We have come to expect getting them, as well as for some of us, giving them. As with getting grade, it appears to be the only way to determine who is in need of help and who does not. But this isn’t true. Tom and Mary go at great length in the beginning of the book to challenge (dispel with) the false assumptions that we have come to believe are “facts of life.”

It is fair to say that they do endorse the continual stream of feedback, but it neither be written or scheduled. And, they are very careful in defining what feedback is, and what it isn’t. Feedback by their definition is not opinion based, which is what you generally get during a performance appraisal. Opinion based feedback is what they term ‘criticism’. There’s no place for it.

Alfie Kohn goes into great length in many of his books to dispel with the myth that we do things as a result of things just being ‘human nature’. It is his contention, as is mine, that this phrase is overused and oversimplifies many situations. It is much easier to term something as ‘human nature’ than to truly challenge the very assumptions we use to make sense of our world. By dubbing things as “human nature”, Alfie Kohn says that when folks use this term it “spares them from having to truly rationalize things. What is true of this time and place may not have been true of a time and place past, nor a time and place future. As a matter of convenience and as avoidance to actually having to deal with a problem, people place this label on it an forget about it.” Since hearing this, I have been extremely careful about using the phrase “human nature” to avoid a pit fall.

You are right that we tend to compare ourselves to others and are judgmental about many factors used for comparison. I still do it despite believing the contrary. It goes to show that this Cultural Paradigm is strong and influential. I do my best to break free from it, but it happens, most of the time automatically. I would hesitate to call it ‘human nature’ though, as I truly believe that most of it is attributable to cultural influences. Our culture is deeply rooted in competition and consequences. With these influences, it is easy to see why we elect to rate people at work and at school. You raised the example about a baseball team and the performance of players. It’s a terrific example.

You got it read pretty well. I would use statistics to determine who might be in need of help (some time off or extra practice) or who is demonstrating above average performance (Start Off position in the batting order, pitching, or fielding). Don’t confuse these statistics with the ‘baseball stats’ that are normally enumerative and non-analytical. The “Book” baseball managers use to determine how to play the game is in all likelihood, tainted by decades of how they ‘think (thought)’ the game is/was supposed to be played. That’s because they mostly use ‘gut feel’ with a pinch of experience to govern their decision making, and, as we know, gut feel is often wrong. Being a Red Sox fan, the pain of doing things by the ‘Book’ gives me regular doses of nausea. Speed and power can be measured to a large degree, but determining contribution of an individual separate from a System is next to impossible. This is one of the false assumption Tom and Mary raise in their book. Take the batters average. He bats .275 but only plays against right-handed pitchers. Tell me, what were the conditions on day one, two,…99? Who pitched and what were their conditions, healthy or unhealthy, pitching in the rain, sun, snow, with runners on or not? What color back drops were there to the pitcher? Is this batters .275 average better or worse than another with a .300 average things not being equal, as I have shown? Who could tell? So I ask, what is the worth of this relative ranking to one another? Now move that to the business place. Who is better than the other, all things not being equal there either? How about the Pygmalion Effect? Does this play a significant role in the outcome of a ranking or vote? I’ll bet it does, more so than the conditions at play, equal or not.

Dr. Deming endorsed the use of statistics to determine those who are extra special or in need of help (the oultliers on a chart). He also mentioned that it was quite common to know who might get an A at the end of a semester based on nonscientific data. But would that be an indicator on future performance or outcomes? Rankings and ratings are done from a discrete population of data that has happened in the past and has very limited predictive powers for future results. He further expressed his concerns regarding the unknowable negative effects to the system (and people) for a limited and mostly unnecessary positive benefit that suited an individual, or small group. Is this a good trade? He didn’t think so, nor do I. He wished that people in the system be treated as equals, which is what the Japanese regarded him fondly for. In a war torn nation that lost a war, he viewed them as people, not inferior beings suited to be servants. To a large degree, this is why he was labeled as having communistic ideas. To that he said that it was obvious to him that people using this term do not understand what communism is and isn’t.

He had many theories about the social outcasts of society, how in fact we created them. They did not create themselves. It had to do with civilizations over the thousands of years developing cast systems that lowered self esteem amongst groups while promoting it amongst others. There will always be some levels of high and low self esteem, but the levels we see are man made. We have the knowledge and power to change things, if we so decide. But then again, our intervention itself has a limitation. The external forces and influences are real and do account for shaping the world we are in. What we need to remind ourselves of is that the are internal forces, often silenced by the barrage of external forces, that need to surface.

I cannot do justice in explaining all the details expressed by these folks in their many books, articles, and papers. By no means does this negate your contributions here nor is it meant to make you or anyone else following this thread feel inferior to them, or anyone else. My opinion stated here is in a dynamic state, constantly in the ebb and tide of our discussions and dialogues. It is important to me that folks here, or anywhere, understand that while we may not agree with one another, that we remain open minded to the possibility that the theory we currently operate under might be dead wrong. It is humbling to realize that this may be true for any one of us, and in fact, as paradigms are created or pass, our paradigm, whatever it is, will one day be replaced and we will end up being wrong nonetheless.

Until then, I look forward to the thoughts and informed opinions of this group.

Regards,

Kevin
 
C

Craig H.

#6
Wow, Kevin. Where do we vote for "Post of the Year?"

I like the baseball comparison. Even though a team may be "loaded" with high talent, high dollar players, there is no guarantee of success. On paper, a team may look great, but for some reason they don't perform well. We often attribute that to "chemistry", but what is it really? Maybe "chemistry" sould be looked at the same way "human nature" is.

After my last post, I was surprisd that no one challenged my logic as being unworkable - that was kind of my point. If you have people working together in a department and the people have different functions, abilities, and training, how do you decide what each person's contribution really is and compare that to what should be? If a pitcher is removed from a game after being "hammered" by opposing pitchers, is it his fault, or the catcher's, who signals which pitch to throw?

If a department isn't succeeding, is it because of the employees, or the management who gave them direction (or not)?

How can we know, and is an employee inquisition the path towards improvement?

Craig
 
A

Al Dyer

#7
JMO,

But,

The most important thing for a company and its employees should be loyalty, working both ways.

While numerical scores can give a general opinion, they cannot give the intangibles that can make an employee the next President.

Yes I sound simplistic, but with loyalty to can get the yearning for knowledge and how to succeed.

Al...
 

Mike S.

Happy to be Alive
Trusted Information Resource
#8
Originally posted by Kevin Mader
Mike,

Actually, the book does not endorse performance appraisals of any kind.

It is fair to say that they do endorse the continual stream of feedback, but it neither be written or scheduled.


I would use statistics to determine who might be in need of help (some time off or extra practice) or who is demonstrating above average performance (Start Off position in the batting order, pitching, or fielding).

Speed and power can be measured to a large degree, but determining contribution of an individual separate from a System is next to impossible. This is one of the false assumption Tom and Mary raise in their book. Take the batters average. He bats .275 but only plays against right-handed pitchers. Tell me, what were the conditions on day one, two,…99? Who pitched and what were their conditions, healthy or unhealthy, pitching in the rain, sun, snow, with runners on or not? What color back drops were there to the pitcher? Is this batters .275 average better or worse than another with a .300 average things not being equal, as I have shown? Who could tell? So I ask, what is the worth of this relative ranking to one another?

Rankings and ratings are done from a discrete population of data that has happened in the past and has very limited predictive powers for future results. He further expressed his concerns regarding the unknowable negative effects to the system (and people) for a limited and mostly unnecessary positive benefit that suited an individual, or small group.

Regards,

Kevin
Kevin,

I'm trying to understand and process much of what you wrote.

How do the first two quotes I listed above jive with one another? They do "not endorse performance appraisals of any kind" but yet "they do endorse the continual stream of feedback". This "feedback" is not random, right? So it is based on a measure (appraisal) of some type that they do, right?

I agree that any process of evaluations/measures is imperfect. However, I believe that if one does a decent job of it, some knowledge is better than none. Take the baseball example. Maybe I cannot completely and perfectly measure the actual individual difference between the batters with the .275 vs. .300 average as you state. There may be complex variables involved, but if there were a reasonable number of data points - say each batter had about 100 at-bats so far this year and they were both full-time players who played almost every day -- I'd tend to believe the data was meaningful. Statistically, once you have a certain number of data points, the more the better, the value (accuracy) of the data becomes higher. Is it perfectly predictive? No. But if you had a $1000 bet on the line, and you could collect only if the batter got a hit, who would you send up to the plate? Would you go with the .300 hitter? I would.

It is like card-counting in blackjack. You have 13 and need to take a hit or you think you will probably lose. You may know there is only one more card in the deck with a value of 9 or more, and 4 cards with values of 6, 7, or 8, and you need an 8 to hit 21, but a 9 or 10 will bust you. Odds are that you should take a hit. Is it a perfect predictor? No, you might bust, a guaranteed loss, but would you not take the hit? Would you prefer to have no knowledge, or some knowledge, albeit imperfect?

Now I admit you could misuse data and do more harm than good, and do more harm than if you had no data. IMO the worst-case is to have wrong data or misuse the data, the next worse case is to have no data, the best-case is to have some good data, even if imperfect, and use it.
 

CarolX

Super Moderator
Super Moderator
#9
how about this

I am beginning to see the logic in all of this….and I will use an example.

An administrative assistant, Mrs. Dedicated, has worked for Company XYZ for 15 years, and under the direction of Ms. Big for 10 years. Her performance reviews have always shown her to be reliable, honest and hardworking employee. Then, Ms. Big gets that big promotion and goes off to the Big Corporate House halfway across the country. Mrs. Dedicated does not make the move with Ms. Big. In comes Mr. Wannabe Bigger to take over Ms. Big's role. Now for whatever reason, Mr. W. Bigger does not like Mrs. Dedicated. 3 months later during performance reviews he rates her performance as poor. And Mrs. Dedicated decides to find a new job, knowing full well that her days are numbered.

Kinda ties in with Al's comments about loyalty.

Most performance evaluations I have seen/done can be and usually are very subjective (i.e. opinions). But how do you be "objective" with a "subjective" system?

CarolX
 
A

Al Dyer

#10
I don't see any employee review based on subjective criteria as being effective. Especially if there are multiple inputs from a broad ranging management team.

Some will like the person, some will not, and that does not mean that it will come down in the middle. At times I was hated by most of management because I was given the authority and responsibility to get a job done. If there was a management committee to give me a review I would be burned at the stake.

But, I was completing the task that was given me by the person in charge of reviews and raises. Sorry to say that in a majority of companies reviews are just something to be done before coffee in the morning and related to the employee by a "personnel" department.

Employees need goals and need additional compensation, not for meeting those goals, but surpassing those goals.

Al...:bigwave:
 
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