How to Throw Out Performance Reviews

So, you’ve heard that performance ratings aren’t a reliable measure of performance (or anything, really), and your company has decided to get rid of them. And then, most likely, your company realized that they still need a way to measure their people so they can differentially compensate them, so they tried to sneak performance ratings back in. But if you want to stop doing performance reviews for good, here’s a few steps you can take to make sure they don’t sneak back into your organization.

First, recognize they are supposed to do.

Part of the problem with performance reviews is that they are trying to do two very different things:

  • Performance Measurement: Your company needs to give you a number so they can compensate you differentially compared to the other numbers (or, well, people) at your organization. Which is all well and good, if you like being known as a Three. Or a Two. Oh, and if you don’t care if your number actually represents the work that you’re doing.
  • Performance Acceleration: The second reason your company does performance reviews is because they hope to increase your performance. This bit often looks like goal setting: you set your goals at the beginning of the year, you never look at them again until you’re forced to, and before your performance review you go back into the system to see how many of them you achieved. Your company is trying to get you to do more, and without any other options, they think goal setting is their best bet.

Separate the two problems that you’re solving for.

These are two very different problems, and by trying to solve for both of them at the same time, we end up solving for neither. So instead, if you want to throw out performance reviews,  keep performance measure and performance acceleration separate. Here’s how:

  • To solve for performance acceleration, prioritize weekly check-ins with your team. It’s really that simple.
  • To solve for performance measurement, simply give the team leaders at your organization a sum of money and allow them to distribute it as they see fit. Now, this probably means that your organization will have to train managers on how to do this properly and effectively – but by prioritizing that training over, oh I don’t know, goal-setting, you’ll be setting everyone up for greater success and engagement at work.

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