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The new metric: performance previews

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in HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training,Performance Reviews

Who doesn’t hate performance reviews?

They destroy morale and teamwork, says Samuel Culbert, a management professor at UCLA, and they hurt the bottom line.

Make appraisals work for you (not against you)! The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews

The ugly truth:


  • You’ve got two people at cross purposes: The boss wants to discuss performance; the employee wants to talk compensation and career.
  • Raises are driven by the marketplace or budget. A review engages the boss and the worker in a ritualistic dance in which the boss comes up with a story to justify the pay. If the employee objects, the supervisor says, “We can work to get it higher. Here’s what you need to do,” or, “I think you’re fabulous but HR said no. We’ll try again next year.”
  • Reviews are framed as “objective,” but when people switch employers, their evaluations change. Checklists are artificial constructs, as much an expression of the boss’s self-interest as the employee’s attributes.

You’d think the best person to help employees improve would be the supervisor, but the boss often is the last person employees turn to because they don’t want to admit they need help.

How you handle yourself during an employee's performance review can have a major impact on how that employee behaves in the months ahead. Use this clear, practical guidance to make your reviews as efficient as possible. The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews

The alternative: Instead of a one-side-accountable, top-down review, consider a both-sides-accountable performance preview. Your assignment: guide, coach, oversee. The employee’s assignment:  Bring problem-solving ideas. Both you and your employee are responsible for asking how to do the job better.

In a preview:


  • The focus is on the future.
  • Checklists and judgments are replaced with questions and answers. Ask how an employee thinks the job could be done better. Then ask, “What else do I need to know?”
  • Both parties state what they want to accomplish and how they see it happening.
  • Both ask for what they need; both pledge their support.
  • Boss and employee meet not once a year but at critical intervals.

By looking ahead as a unit, you’ll have more light with less heat.

— Adapted from “Get Rid of the Performance Review!” Samuel A. Culbert, The Wall Street Journal.

In The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews you'll find specific ways to make your reviews more effective, including:
  • How to write results-oriented job descriptions that facilitate preparing for performance reviews
  • The pros and cons of rating scales
  • Preparing a plan for improvement
  • What to do when the worker lashes out
  • Errors in evaluating that can color your perceptions of performance
  • Follow-through: the forgotten step in improving employee performance
  • Sample job descriptions, employee logs, rating scales and reviews
The Manager's Guide to Effective, Legal Performance Reviews

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