Get Rid of the Performance Review! A Book Review

I’ve found most performance reviews to be uncomfortable experiences. At times I wondered what’s wrong with me? Is it normal to dislike the performance review process. After reading Samuel Culbert’s new book, Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing – and Focus on What Really Matters, I understand why I don’t like the performance review process.

Culbert repeats a common thread of messages throughout the book to help break down the commonly accepted psyche that the performance review is an effective tool for performance management. Unfortunately, at most companies, it is both ineffective and unnecessary. As you read the book, you can tell Dr. Culbert is very passionate about this subject. He identifies 12 problems with performance reviews:

  1. Performance reviews focus on finding faults and placing blame.
  2. Performance reviews focus on deviations from some ideal as weaknesses.
  3. Performance reviews are about comparing employees.
  4. Performance reviews create a competition between boss and subordinate.
  5. Performance reviews are one-side-accountable and boss-dominated monologues.
  6. Performance reviews are thunderbolt from on high, with the boss speaking for the company.
  7. Performance reviews mean that if the subordinate screws up, then the subordinate suffers.
  8. Performance reviews allow the big boss to go on autopilot.
  9. The performance review is a scheduled event.
  10. Performance reviews give HR people too much power.
  11. Performance reviews don’t lead to anything of substance.
  12. Performance reviews are hated, and managers and subordinates avoid doing them until they have to.

Culbert doesn’t dismiss that there are under performing employees or performance problems in organizations, he is actually quite harsh on poor performing employees. Culbert is addressing this as a problem of management: performance reviews do not achieve the increase in performance required and instead impedes performance gains in many organizations.

Culbert could have improved this book by providing more real world examples of companies actually implementing what he describes and finding success with it. Unfortunately, many senior managers would not likely implement massive performance system changes on this book alone.

However, the nuggets of information in this book are great tidbits for any manager or human resources professional. We recommend you read it if you’re looking for an alternative system for your performance reviews.

If you’re interested, you can purchase it from Amazon here: Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing–and Focus on What Really Matters (Affiliate link: you’ll help support if you purchase it at that link)

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