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What do Performance Reviews and Santa Claus have in Common – An Update.

Last Christmas I wrote a blog titled “What do Performance Reviews and Santa Claus have in Common?”


That blog highlighted how both: 

  • Only occur once a year (OK maybe twice for some performance reviews)

  • Hold you to account for your sins or failures

  • Reward the ‘good’ people and punish the ‘bad’ people

Then 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.


So what is my update?


Firstly I have been encouraged in the past twelve months to see a significant increase 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 say they are actually demotivating.

Secondly I am seeing a shift as more people now are starting to say “It’s all about the conversation”; something many writers including Di Armbrust, Tim Baker, Sam Culbert, Roger Ferguson, Nick Holley, Ted Mouradian, Dan Pink, Ricardo Semler, Professor Paul Thompson and Graham Winter have been saying for some time.


Finally I have been delighted to see an increase in the level of debate about how to move away from ratings, “mid year” and/or “annual” performance reviews and when things are going badly, Performance Improvement Plans.  


I am delighted because as one colleague recently wrote:

“In one job I had I came to be known as "The Terminator" - which was a misnomer because I tried turning people around first. I've been saying for years "65% improve because they're given guidance / trained / listened to ... 30% jump before they're pushed or have an epiphany about doing something more to their taste... 5% are locked in their own paradigm and usually have their employment terminated" ... So I'm interested in the research!”


Or another who asked:

"I would like to know more about how to incorporate the conversations into compensation and incentives"


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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