In a question on Quora about how a start-up should handle performance reviews, John Lilly writes:
After believing in annual reviews for most of my career, I don’t really believe in them anymore. Not timely enough, demoralizing in general (everyone thinks they’re above average), and just a hell of a lot of work for everyone. This negative view of annual & traditional reviews is quite strongly supported by university research — it’s just counter-productive, even though we all think we should do it.
from an article in Wired by Thomas Goetz, How Facebook Uses Feedback Loops: Meet Rypple.
How does Facebook keep its employees happy? Feedback. Lots and lots of feedback.
“Workplace productivity has been stuck to a 50-year-old, paper-based performance-review cycle,” says Daniel Debow, Rypple’s co-founder and co-CEO.
“Our company has always been built around feedback loops,” says Facebook engineering director Bob Trahan, who counts himself as employee 45. “Everything we do in engineering is reviewed: Engineer A reviews what Engineer B does. We have design reviews twice a week. We track performance metrics for code, in terms of speed and time.”
The whole process of managing employee performance and providing feedback has been in need of an overhaul for some time. The 360-degree review was popularized in the 1990s
“three-sixties” have many limitations, the biggest of which is that they typically happen only once a year.
In 2000, Jai Ghorpade, a professor of management at San Diego State University, conducted a review of more than 600 employee feedback studies, only 30 percent of which showed improvements in employee performance. Another 30 percent reported decreases in employee performance after a feedback review, and the rest reported no impact at all. “While it delivers valuable feedback, the 360-degree concept has serious problems relating to effectiveness,” Ghorpade concluded.
I see nothing constructive about an annual pay and performance review. It’s a mainstream practice that has baffled me for years.
To my way of thinking, a one-side-accountable, boss-administered review is little more than a dysfunctional pretense. It’s a negative to corporate performance, an obstacle to straight-talk relationships, and a prime cause of low morale at work. Even the mere knowledge that such an event will take place damages daily communications and teamwork.
…. I see the primary purpose …. as intimidation aimed at preserving the boss’s authority and power advantage. Such intimidation is unnecessary
…. At best, the discussion accomplishes nothing. More likely, it creates tensions that carry over to their everyday relationships.
…. claiming an evaluation can be “objective” is preposterous, as if any assessment is independent of that evaluator’s motives in the moment.
…. The absurdity is even more obvious when bosses — as they so often do — base their reviews on anonymous feedback received from others. This illogic is highlighted in the contemporary performance-reviewing fad called “360-degree feedback.”
…. any critique is as much an expression of the evaluator’s self-interests as it is a subordinate’s attributes or imperfections[.] To my way of thinking, the closest one can get to “objective” feedback is making an evaluator’s personal preferences, emotional biases, personal agendas and situational motives for giving feedback sufficiently explicit, so that recipients can determine what to take to heart for themselves.
…. You would think that the person in the best position to help somebody improve would be his or her boss.
Yet, thanks to the performance review, the boss is often the last person an employee would turn to.
…. I believe it’s immoral to maintain the facade that annual pay and performance reviews lead to corporate improvement, when it’s clear they lead to more bogus activities than valid ones. Instead of energizing individuals, they are dispiriting and create cynicism. Instead of stimulating corporate effectiveness, they lead to just-in-case and cover-your-behind activities that reduce the amount of time that could be put to productive use. Instead of promoting directness, honesty and candor, they stimulate inauthentic conversations in which people cast self-interested pursuits as essential company activities.via online.wsj.com