“What do you hate about performance appraisals?” I asked, gazing into a classroom full of rolling eyes. The snickers and muffled laughter hinted that I struck a chord.
Each table created responses that sounded like these:
- They are a waste of time.
- They are supposed to cover a whole year, but no one remembers anything earlier than three weeks ago.
- My manager hardly knows what I do, anyway.
- My manager is just trying to remember the bad stuff, so he doesn’t have to give me a raise.
- The only score I ever get is a 3 out of 5, because any other score requires an explanation, and no one wants to spend the time on the paperwork.
- My manager is out of touch with the problems I face on a daily basis, and he uses some sort of rating system that doesn’t make any sense.
- Sometimes, I think my manager is wrong about the way he sees things.
If you are a regular reader of Dilbert, you can come up with another hundred observations. The reason they are funny is that they most accurately describe the truth.
“Our company has adopted something called Management by Objectives. MBO they call it,” Sara reported.
“And why did your company adopt that strategy?” I asked.
“There were some who said that our appraisal system was too subjective, that it needed to be measurable. So everyone had to sit down and make up some objectives.”
“And why do you think your company made that decision?”
“Some of the managers were uncomfortable making judgments about a team member’s performance. There were squabbles, disagreements and the whole thing turned into a big distraction.”
“And how is MBO working out for you?”
“Well, it has just as many downsides as the old system,” Sara replied. “Some people get so focused on their own objectives, they forget about the other people they work with. Cooperation gets stopped dead in its tracks. And sometimes the objectives are not really in the control of the team member. We seem to spend more time talking about how unfair the system is than we do about improving individual effectiveness.”