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What do Performance Reviews and Santa Claus have in Common?

There are a surprising number of similarities between Performance Reviews and Santa coming to town:

  • Both only occur once a year* 

  • Santa makes a list of who is naughty and nice.  Say no more when it comes to performance reviews!

  • You better not cry, you better not pout, he's gonna find out who's naughty or nice.  Sound familiar?  How often do reviews over emphasise bad behaviour?

  • Santa sees you when you're sleeping; he knows when you're awake.  He knows if you've been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.  Any sins you commit during the year will be held to account at the annual review!

  • Santa Claus is coming to town.  I.e. he is not here all year around.  Instead he makes a special trip. Sound like performance review again?

  • Naughty children receive lumps of coal.  Good children receive nice presents.  Do I have to explain how performance reviews work?

We all know that while Santa is fictitious, he adds real value to our lives.  Inversely, we all know performance reviews are real and add very little or no value to our lives.


And more similarities when considering John Lennon’s views on Christmas.


  • So this is Christmas, for weak and for strong, for rich and the poor ones, the world is so wrong.  Perhaps there is a lesson here for how we should approach performance reviews?

  • A very merry Christmas and a happy New Year, let's hope it's a good one without any fear.  How often do we hear about the fear and trepidation people have when it comes to the annual performance review?

What can we learn from Santa, Christmas and John Lennon to help improve performance reviews?  My suggestions are as follows:

  • Let’s get rid of the naughty list from the review process.  If people are naughty, don’t wait until the once-a-year-process happens; manage them immediately using a separate policy setting. 

  • Now all the good people can get a good present at any review held any time throughout the year!  And focus that good present around continuous improvement.

Now when people are:

  1. Crying or pouting, see suggestion #1

  2. Sleeping or bad, see suggestion #1

  3. Being be good for goodness sake, see suggestion #2 

  4. Weak, see suggestion #2

  5. Strong, see suggestion #2 (because they can be mentors).

  6. Rich, see suggestion #2 or if they want more money, see suggestion #1

  7. Poor, see suggestion #2 

My Christmas wish to you all is let's go further than hoping next year is a good one without any fear by learning the lessons Santa, Christmas and John Lennon can teach us.


Let’s help everyone has a Merry Christmas next year by implementing suggestions #1 and #2 first.


OK some companies do performance reviews twice or perhaps 4 times per annum.  My point is it’s still too infrequent.

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Mark Shaw

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