"Performance ratings data within companies is all bogus"

Most of my exercise is accompanied by podcasts. Whether I’m out for a walk or in the gym I’m likely to have someone speaking in my ears.

This morning something went “YES!!!” in my head when I heard these words:

“Performance ratings data inside companies is all bogus. It doesn’t actually measure what it says it’s measuring. Which, of course, is hugely problematic because we end up promoting people, and paying people, and training people, and deploying people based on those rating data and they’re invalid.  “

These are the words of Marcus Buckingham speaking on The Future of Work Podcast in which Jacob Morgan.

Sometimes you hear something and you know intuitively that there’s something significant about it, and that’s what happened to me this morning.

I’ve been subject to a number of rating systems in my time, some of them with forced bell curves others not; some of them have had a few points of assessment others with many areas of assessment. These assessments have always been done on an annual basis with the occasional mid-term review. None of them have made a significant difference to what I’ve done day-to-day and they’ve all felt like they were being done to tick-a-box for the corporation. I’ve always been diligent in ticking that box because the numbers in the assessment have made a difference to the money in my pocket but little else.

There have been a number of high profile organisations switching away from these systems:

Marcus’ own article also cited Deloitte – Reinventing Performance Management.

The Performance Review systems that I’ve experienced tend to link together development and reward. Often they are the only conversation about development and reward that an employee has with their manager. Everyone knows that this shouldn’t be the case, but it’s what happens.  I can’t remember a time when a Performance Review has resulted in a change of my Development Priorities. The times that I’ve developed the most have always been whilst working for an effective team leader, hence some other words from the podcast resonated:

“I strongly suggest the future of work should be built around the practices of what the best team leaders do anyway, and they do not do a one every six-week conversation…what they do do is check in with each person each week about the work, it starts with the work.” Marcus Buckingham

We may not be in a position to change the performance rating system, but we can all make a different to people’s development in the places where we lead.

I like Marcus’ principle of 5 minutes to tell me about 5 things for the next 5 days.

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