The psychology of workplace performance reviews

Performance reviews suck. And not only do they suck, they are useless. Ouch. There, I said it. Now we can move on. Well, I suppose I need to expand upon my topic sentence. That’s what ELA 101 (English Language Arts) course would state. Ok, I will so indulge.

I hate performance reviews. I hate giving them. I hate getting them. Let’s face it. These reviews are based on antiquated Humsn Resources principles and funding requirements. I can’t think of the last time I received a useful accurate performace review. Now, the word “accurate”, as I threw it in there is interesting. As a psychologist, too much of this is perception and subjective. Sure, some parts are very much measurement-based. How often you arrived late. Productivity standards. And, 360 feedback consensus. Although, the latter can be mob-thinking mentality. I’m not even going to get into that. But it is amazing how office gossip can insidiously creep into a performance review. Although, I will note I heard a statement this past year touching upon that, which was so funny to me it stuck like an earworm. Someone seriously said that the idea that raises would be based on performance was outrageous. That’s interesting. Was the person basically saying we should continue with participation trophies. According to the news media, we are in a period of quiet quitting. Thus, even participation trophies seem beyond ridiculous at this point.

However, let me get to the real crux of this all. Performance reviews are usually given on an annual basis. It’s like chastisizing the dog for peeing on the couch or eating your shoes a month later. The association is just not there. Feedback is best when it is timely. Try checking in on a weekly basis. Do a rolling performance appraisal. Also, you need to level set expectations. We have a weird relationship with likert scales that run from 1 to 5. People always want the 5. However, I tell all my direct staff if you get a “3” you’re ok because a “3” generally means you are meeting expectations. It is amazing the number of times I have seen supervisors give all their direct reports a “5”. There is no way possible you have a team that in which everyone goes beyond 100%. What you have in that situation are managers who are afraid to give real feedback. If you have frightened managers and staff who misunderstand the rating scale, performance appraisals mean nothing.

4 replies »

  1. I think the worst part of performance reviews are when they try to quantify them, reducing various performance attributes to a number. It creates a false sense of objectivity out of what is invariably a very subjective exercise. It also leads to comparisons that are pretty much meaningless.


  2. I think performance reviews are so focused on not allowing anyone to say they were treated unfairly they fail to tell anything useful. A lot of the supposedly “objective” quantification is really subjective anyhow.


  3. Hehe Dear Miriam i Wonder What Kind of Performance
    Reviews Our Distance And in Some Cases Near Ancestors
    Will Give Us Based on the Way We Operate Human Cultures Now

    Considering that about 7 Percent of Social-Empathic Potential
    in Reciprocal Communication May Be Derived From Text

    Considering that We Are Truly An Assessed Most Social
    Animal Evolved This Way For Survival in Small Bands
    of No More Than About 150 Folks Both Blood Kin And
    Ones We aRe Well Acquainted With As An All Hands Effort

    Every Day Where Nature Provides a Daily Performance Review
    on How Well Groups of Humans Work Hand-in-Hand in the Forage
    of the Day in Hunting And Gathering Ways an All Hands Effort Similar

    to the ‘Work of the Night’

    Where Humans Are Not Removed

    From Face to Face And Other Body Parts

    in Common Work of the Night Ways to Come
    to The Fruition of a Child Raised By the Band
    On the Nomad Run For Resources As Every Hand

    Is Vital in Cooperation For Surviving And Thriving For
    Real Where THere Are No Lap Top Attachments to Replace

    Being Human FlesH and Blood Moving Connecting Co-Creating
    Ways Yes From the Forage of the Day to the Work-Of-The-Night

    To Raising A Child By An Entire Village Yep Face to Face in Full Social
    Reciprocal Ways Of Communication No Doubt Those Ancestors Before

    And Now Who Lived in ‘Flintstone’ Ways of Living Might Like to Visit

    Where We Live to Taste Some of All the Instant Gratification Provided
    Easily Accessible at Least Even if Not As Cheap as Fruit On Wild Trees

    Thing Is We Mostly Don’t Climb Anymore Very Rarely Do Some Human
    Beings Even Lift Their Hands And Arms Up to Wave at A

    Stranger Passing By Just Acknowledging A Share
    of the Human Condition True All The

    1st World Problems Riddled By
    Depression and Anxiety

    to the Point Where

    Folks Have No Idea
    Why They Are Even Here

    Even When They Become A Tool
    A Laptop and Make 6 Figure Incomes For Real…

    No Doubt Our Ancestors Would Review Us as Lost Boys and Girls
    Wearing the Strangest of Tools And Becoming those Tools in PRiSoN
    Away From the Pleasure Treasure and Struggle in Living Balance With Nature

    i Like My Hot Showers. i Like Going to Walmart to Buy Whatever my Wife Wants
    to Feed me to eat hehe. i Like my Soft Bed. Yet Most of All i Love my ‘Body
    Electric’ And Being Naked Enough Whole Complete With Nature Exercising

    my ‘Call of the

    Wild’ From Head
    to Toe For Real

    Loving Free

    So Far Away

    From the Tools
    of BLacK And WHiTE
    Without Colors of SoUL That Used
    to be me Living Dead so Many Decades of Tool Time Then…

    Sadly So Many Humans Lose Their Blooming And Colors
    of FLoWeRS FLoWinG Way too Young With No Clue How To

    And Color
    Again Moving
    Connecting and
    Co-Creating For Real

    ‘Ghost the Machine’ You Live Now For Real…
    Like the Little Boy in the “A.I.” Movie Who
    Waited For the Statue of A Woman At the
    Bottom of An Ocean to Turn Him Into A Real
    Boy Of Course That’s Online Life Now For So Many

    ‘Lost Boys’

    And ‘Lost
    Girls’ too Finding
    Their 15 to 20 Second
    Parts of Fame and Losing
    A SoUL That Breathes Forever
    Freer Now WiTHiN All the Colors
    FLoWinG All the Flavors Of Ice
    Cream Life Yes We Churn Ourselves..:)


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