The worst-kept secret in companies has long been the fact that the yearly ritual of evaluating (and sometimes rating and ranking) the performance of employees epitomizes the absurdities of corporate life. Managers and staff alike too often view performance management as time consuming, excessively subjective, demotivating and ultimately unhelpful. In these cases, it does little to improve the performance of employees. It may even undermine their performance as they struggle with ratings, worry about compensation, and try to make sense of performance feedback.
These aren’t new issues, but they have become increasingly blatant as jobs in many businesses have evolved over the past 15 years. More and more positions require employees with deeper expertise, more independent judgment and better problem-solving skills. They are shouldering ever-greater responsibilities in their interactions with customers and business partners and creating value in ways that industrial-era performance-management systems struggle to identify. Soon enough, a ritual most executives say they dislike will be so outdated that it will resemble trying to conduct modern financial transactions with carrier pigeons.
Yet nearly nine out of 10 companies around the world continue not only to generate performance scores for employees but also to use them as the basis for compensation decisions.
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