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What do Performance Reviews and Santa Claus have in Common – 2 Years On.

Two years ago, I posted a blog titled “What do Performance Reviews and Santa Claus have in Common?”

In it, I concluded that while Santa is fictitious, he adds real value to our lives and inversely, performance reviews are real yet add very little or no value to our lives.


I suggested we get rid of the naughty list from the review process because when this happens, all the good people can focus on continuous improvement.


My update last Christmas highlighted a significant increase in the number of people agreeing with the research on performance reviews.  Namely that:

  • 95% of line managers say they are a total waste of time and deliver zero value

  • 90% of HR Practitioners say they do not give them the data they need and

  • About 50% of employees (over 90% if you are aged under 30) say they are actually demotivating.

There was also a clear shift in thinking that it’s all about the conversation. While this is encouraging, as my friend Jan Victor from the UK explains;

“Over the past 10 years I’ve had to do so many appraisals and never has any of my team members ever even remotely suggested that they saw any value in these. We did all the paperwork, got all the signatures and had the discussions but nothing ever came from it. It was a good time to catch up on coffee though.”


Performance reviews need to add more value than be a good time to catch up on a coffee.


This year I learned from Ken Miller how the performance review process should be considered as a widget where the outcome is not a cup of coffee but data needed to feed into secondary organisation processes such as training plans and remuneration reviews.


For many years I have used behavioural anchored rating scales to support the conversation.  This approach allows simple and accurate collection of the data necessary for input into the secondary organisation processes.  This year I have witnessed a growth in understanding and acceptance of this approach.  The results include more meaningful conversations and up to an 80% reduction in the time, effort and cost required.


Paul Ikutegbe, a recent Academic Award winner in his Post Graduate HR studies was complimentary of this approach when he said

“A massive shout out to the inspirational Mark Shaw who reached out to me recently and has since taken me on a brainstorming journey to explore best practice Performance Management strategies from a theoretical and practical standpoint.”


My Christmas wish is that you put a new performance management system in your corporate Christmas stocking this year.  Then in January implement it.


Are you ready to make my wish come true to do something about replacing performance reviews in your organisation?


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

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Mark Shaw

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