Complaining about things that suck is overrated.
However, annual performance reviews are even more overrated. And that’s saying something, because everyone loathes them.
Seriously, have you ever once met someone willing to defend them? I mean, c’mon, what are they going to say?
“Look, folks, I know you hate them. I know they’re a waste of time. And, yes, I know that they encourage bizarre, reptilian behavior. But we have to have them because_____.”
There’s just no way to fill in that blank and keep a straight face.
Apologies to all of my HR friends who own performance management. This isn’t personal. I won’t say this in front of your boss. And, anyhow, I’ve been outspoken on this since before I met most of you. It’s in my first book.
You know what’s even crazier? I once worked (as a W2 employee) for an organization that had never used performance reviews and thought it was missing out.
What my boss said
“Amiel, would you believe that we’ve never had a regular performance review here? It’s completely ridiculous. So I’m creating a standard form we can use for everyone. It’s going be great, and I want you to help me.
What I said to my boss:
“Alright, I’ll help you make it work. [Gulp]. Now, first, I have to say that lots of research shows that consistent, direct feedback is the best way to increase performance. So I suggest that if we do this annually, we also make it part of everyday managing.”
What I wish I’d said to my boss
“Yeah, I know what you’re saying: Amiel, imagine we run a business on the American side of Niagara Falls. For years we’ve been watching those Canadians go over their falls in barrels like there was nothing to it. And thinking, ‘Damn it, why can’t we do that? We’re smart. We know how to make things in the United States. Why don’t we sell barrels that can do that?’
And so you’re saying to me, ‘Amiel, now is the time. Help me make a barrel that can go over our side of the falls.’