Performance Reviews: Are They Worth the Effort?

The annual employee performance review can either be an extremely rewarding and educational experience, or completely subjective.  At organizations that do it wrong, reviews become the one time of year when frustrated managers, who never realized their own ambitions, are given carte blanche to thwart the ambitions of others. I can remember one manager in the distant past who made it a policy never, ever to grade anyone above the "level 3" or "met expectations" category.  At the time, I considered that akin to  getting a C- in a course.  For those who had "given 200%," this manager would respond, with a smile, "We expected that of you."  It's fine for a parent to say that, but not a boss, especially not when incentives and pay increases are linked to the performance review. Creative people tended to leave the organization as soon as they could, while that manager was the first to go during downsizings after the company was acquired. More drug companies are moving to 360-degree review, and having team members review each other and their managers.  This seems the ideal solution, but one wonders whether pack behavior, personality and politics enter the equation and whether the results are truly unbiased. Found this online forum (open until November 23) moderated by Harvard Business School professor Jim Heskett that should interest those on both sides of the evaluation divide (or in the center of the circle). What do you think of your organization's review process? Write in and tell us. -AMS