Whether performance evaluations can be abolished


In this article we start with an argument that Performance evaluations are not up to the mark or really worked with the intention. They take up a lot of management’s time and effort. Instead of providing valid and reliable information for human resource decisions, many a times they do nothing other than discourage employees. As practiced today, performance evaluations provide management with essentially not so correct data and make employees angry, jealous, and cynical.

There is no shortage of good reasons why performance evaluations should be eliminated. The whole process, for instance, is political. It’s used by management for ulterior purposes—to cover themselves against lawsuits, to justify different levels of pay, to reward allies, and to punish enemies. Employees see the process as a sham that can be manipulated for political purposes. Therefore most employees put little value in the process or in the final results.

Performance evaluations are subjective. In spite of efforts to formalize and systematize the process, rater errors continue to make any results highly suspicious.

Evaluation results also tend to be inflated and non-differentiating. It’s typical for 70% or more of employees to be rated above average. This tends to overvalue most people’s contribution and overlook those who are underperforming.

Employees are not immune to the influences of regular performance evaluations. Regardless of their validity, most employees still want to receive favorable evaluations. This often encourages employees to misdirect their efforts in order to look good on the criteria management has chosen to appraise. This, of course, helps to explain many behaviors that actually undermine an organization’s overall performance—such as following rules that don’t make any sense or engaging in practices that forgo a large payoff in the long term in order to gain small payoff immediately.

Performance evaluations were good fit in the management world of the 1950s and 1960s a world of bureaucratic organizations run by command-and-control managers. In today’s climate of

teamwork and empowerment, performance evaluations are obsolete and should be abolished.

Coming to the positive aspects of benefits of Performance evaluation no knowledgeable observer can fail to acknowledge that performance evaluation has its flaws. But that’s no reason to abolish the practice.

If you eliminate performance evaluations, with what do you replace it? We still need some measure of an employee’s contribution. We need to hold people accountable for previous commitments they’ve made to their work group and organization; and employees would still need some form of feedback on how they can improve if they come up short on meeting those commitments.

Many of the negatives associated with performances evaluations can be corrected by following what we have learned that can make appraisals more valid and reliable, and by focusing in development rather than evaluation.

Much of the criticism unleashed against performance evaluations is due to the way the process is handle. For instance, having employees participate in setting their work goals and having them engaged in self-evaluation makes the process more democratic and less threatening. By using comparative rankings, management can minimize the effect of inflationary ratings. And the use of multiple evaluators lessens the likelihood of political influence and increases the validity of the results.

In addition, performance appraisals should be used for more merely evaluation. That is, they should do more than just try to identify what’s wrong. They should also be used for development purposes— helping employees learn how they can improve. When the appraisal process focuses more on development than evaluation, much of the criticism aimed at the process will subside. In a developmental role, managers no longer have to play God. Rather, they become a supportive coach helping employees to improve their performance.

The arguments against performance evaluation are misdirected. The concept is solid. What needs to be abolished is the mismanagement of the process. By emphasizing development rather than evaluation, and by making sure that best practices are followed, the performances evaluation can be a valuable tool for improving both employee and organizational performance.