Main navigation

The first thing that popped into my head as I considered the ‘state of my industry’ was that ‘Human Resources‘ the term is well out of date and not representative of the important role that people play (nor people professionals) in the success of a business. Bit by bit, and not so slowly the very ‘functions’ delivered by these ‘HR’ folks are changing/evolving and even disappearing. Workplaces are changing at a dramatic pace… not least of which the performance review/appraisal will be relegated to history — it has had its day. The very concept dates back to the early 20th century from Taylor’s ‘pioneering’ Time and Motion studies — seeking efficiency.

Some people love performance appraisals, others hate them. Some see it as a time to review their accomplishments; others see it as a time to be scrutinised (or to find out how little their manager knows about the work they have been doing)… No matter what it is — it is going to change.

Why do we do performance reviews in the first place? Mostly it is about potential career advancement, learning what areas need to be worked on and how one can ‘improve,’ but also the organisation is wanting to assess that it is getting a return for its efforts.

In my experience, much time and effort goes into the preparation of the performance document… yet mostly, they reflect the work of no more than four weeks (i.e. current memory) of activities. Some businesses are better organised than this and make notes or add information to the performance system from time to time.

It is a stressful and distracting time for managers and team members – there seems to be so much riding on this one conversation – and also it is only ‘one’ person’s viewpoints.

Employees too can be confronted with ‘straight’ feedback delivered who knows how. In fact the research conducted by Risk To Business shows that the performance review process is the single biggest cause of claims for bullying. Stuart King has identified what he calls ‘tournaments’ — that is the systems, processes and even the organizational structure can be pitting people against each other.

“The link between performance management and workplace bullying is unequivocal” says King. “The term ‘upwards bullying’ is interesting. It is applied to workplace complaints made by employees against his or her managers or supervisors. But the link of upwards bullying to the performance management process is even more interesting. ‘Tournaments’ that are played out by people in businesses everywhere, everyday. It is relevant to note that performance management conversations have featured in 85% of workplace bullying complaints that Risk to Business has responded to in the past three years.

Research Risk to Business conducted to understand the what, when, where, why and how certain workplace behaviors occurred found important indicators and things connected with tournaments and competitiveness. You can download the paper here.”

At the very core, what should be a positive constructive conversation about someone’s career and growth opportunities – by their very nature (and the way they are set up) they can be decisive and not conducive to a productive relationship – at worst, causing accusations of workplace bullying.

I believe that there will be an end to performance reviews as we know them… different tools have already been created that give insights into the behaviour and contributions of team members (that is socialised by peers as well as members). I know from my own experience with the recognition platform that is used at RedBalloon that this gives powerful insights into the activities and contributions throughout the year and allows both managers and team members to gauge their performance based on a number of performance metrics, or as we like to call them ‘Promises’ across the entire year.

The first step is to read and review the data from your recognition platform and set it side by side with your performance program… see what it says – at least in the short term you will have another viewpoint.

This article first appeared as part of my LinkedIn collection

Reader Interactions


  1. Some very interesting points here. I do think it’s important that we look critically at things that many businesses take for granted – perhaps for these parts to survive, they need to adapt to how businesses are run nowadays.

Leave a comment
*All fields are required

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

join the conversation
@ the huddle
Click to discover how I can help you progress to the next level through my Facebook Community The Huddle.
download the book

To learn more, enter your email for a FREE copy of Ready To Soar, Chapter One.

close x
  • enter your first name
  • enter your email