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Are Performance Reviews Bogus?

First Posted: 06/20/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 05:15 PM ET

Interview

(Associated Press)

PERFORMANCE PREVIEW: Want to lower morale, reduce productivity and undermine the relationship between the boss and his or her subordinates? Give an annual performance review, say authors of a recently published book deeming the practice bogus.

Pay and performance reviews are merely tools used to intimidate employees, said Samuel Culbert, a professor of management at UCLA and author of "Get Rid of the Performance Review!," published this month. Lawrence Rout, a senior editor at the Wall Street Journal, also contributed to the book.

"It is the most pretentious, fraudulent, ill-advised exercise taking place at companies, and I can't understand why," Culbert said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It does nothing but cause angst and anxiety."

Companies administer the reviews because they feel they have no alternative for measuring an employee's performance, Culbert said. He suggests employers should instead have "performance previews," which would encourage dialogue and also hold management responsible for productivity.

Employers should ask workers how they think an assignment can best be done, so that the boss can offer feedback and potentially avoid problems, Culbert said.

"We want people talking and learning the lessons of their experience, not defending their mistakes," Culbert said. "Instead of employees failing and getting fired, let's see management roll up their sleeves and pitch in to do what needs to be done so that there's joint accountability."

But if there aren't performance reviews, how will companies justify firings and layoffs?

"If people aren't learning the lessons implied by the mistakes they're making, it will be obvious and easy enough to get them out the door and on the road," Culbert said. "You don't need a checklist for that."

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Filed by Amy Hertz  |