Oh How I Dislike PAs

November 25, 2009 by Bill Bradley


Title: 5 Traps of Performance Measurement

Competencies: performance management, performance appraisal

Who benefits: executives, managers, hr professionals

Consultant Usage: extremely important for consultants working on issues of organizational development, organizational design, employee performance, performance measurements

What’s it about? Oh how I love to rant against performance appraisals.  Give me any excuse and I am off to the races to bet a sure thing.  For most people in most organizations, performance appraisals are not worth the time and the effort.  For many people and some organizations, the performance appraisal “system” actually backfires and makes the employee and the organization worse off.  And the supervisor is exasperated and exhausted.

Who gave that financial guy at Exxon his performance appraisal?

How is the performance appraisal system working at AIG?

In my dreams I see the Captain of the Titanic in his office giving a performance appraisal to some poor yokel when that little accident happened.  All the while he is saying to the poor yokel “You have got to stop being so negative.  All you ever do is bring me bad news.  I’m not giving you a raise this year.”

Historically, and I am tempted to add hysterically, performance appraisals measure what is easily measured not what is essential.  And with good reason.  Measurement of performance is difficult as Andrew Likierman points out in the October 2009 Harvard Business Review (see link above). 

I would like summarize those five traps and if you are in the PA business, urge you to read it.  It is a high level discussion, not the easiest read, but boy is it important.  The traps:

  • Measuring Against Yourself
  • Looking Backward
  • Putting Your Faith In Numbers
  • Gaming Your Metrics
  • Sticking To Your Numbers Too Long

If you are looking for more, or are new to this Blog, I previously reviewed a book that is now about 10 years old and still as good as the day it was published: Abolishing Performance Appraisals: Why They Backfire and What to Do Instead.

On this topic I enjoy feedback.  If you have a strong opinion on this topic, would you comment please…either way…I will consider it my PA! 🙂

Catch you later.

[tags]performance appraisals, performance reviews, performance feedback, performance management, performance measurement, performance metrics, stop doing performance appraisals, abolish performance appraisals, andrew likierman, bill bradley, william bradley, bradley[/tags]

Bill Bradley (mostly) retired after 35 years in organizational consulting, training and management development. During those years he worked internally with seven organizations and trained and consulted externally with more than 90 large and small businesses, government agencies, hospitals and schools.

Posted in Engagement, Leadership Development

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  1. Jack Hagerty says:

    Enjoyed the read, and will seek out the article and the book.
    Have you read Annette Simmon’s article, “Why Performance Reviews Fail?” The pdf is easily obtained by googling the author’s name with the word “performance.”
    I’d be interested in your reaction to her alternative performance review suggestions.

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