One of the favorite devices of human resources departments is the performance appraisal. These appraisals have become something of a constitutionally mandated fact of business management. We believe that these appraisals are, in truth, harmful to morale and unnecessarily costly for an organization to administer. Let us explain.
As the late W. Edwards Deming, considered the architect of total quality management, once described it: the effects are devastating. Such system substitute’s short-term performance for long-term planning, wrecks teamwork, and nurtures rivalry. It builds fear and leaves people bitter or despondent, unfit for work for weeks after receipt of the rating.
Other factors, too, enter into the assessment of a worker, and they are often situations over which the individual has no control. Effort and commitment are really the only parts of the equation over which an employee has complete control, but it is impossible to isolate the effects of these factors.
In the final analysis, performance reviews may temp a worker to try to please the boss at the expense of either fellow workers, or, more importantly, the customer. Such efforts can undermine teamwork as well as job performance.
There is a better way! The alternative to traditional performance appraisals are individual development plans that foster an environment of understanding and commitment to personal growth.