Fixing Performance ManagementWhat’s your experience with performance reviews? How energizing and helpful are they — to give or receive? Do performance reviews enhance, stunt, or do little for increasing effectiveness? Do you look forward to performance discussions with excitement or dread?

The October issue of Harvard Business Review features an article on “The Performance Management Revolution.” The authors write, “hated by bosses and subordinates alike, traditional performance appraisals have been abandoned by more than a third of U.S. companies.” They report that performance focus is shifting from accountability to learning because of the return of people development, the need for agility, and the centrality of teamwork.

This is followed by a November HBR article, written by HR leaders at Facebook, drawing from their company’s approaches and advising “Let’s not Kill Performance Evaluations Yet.”  Facebook retains a modified and collaborative form of performance reviews for “fairness, transparency, and development.”

A Zenger Folkman survey of 2,700 HBR blog readers led to a research paper on Feedback: The Powerful Paradox. As Facebook has found, most people want feedback. But many of those same respondents report they don’t get nearly enough positive or corrective feedback. And they admit they avoid or neglect to give either type of feedback.

Surveys in the U.S. and the U.K. are showing that 1/3 to 2/3 of organizations are planning to drop or revise their performance management systems. Rethinking performance management cries out for starting with clarifying what’s our objective?

And this should be followed by what are our assumptions about managing performance? Are we assuming talent is fairly fixed and we’re trying to grade, weed out, or promote people? Or do we assume a growth mindset and feel that performance management should be focused on growing and developing effectiveness?

Mounting evidence and the best performance management practices of leading organizations shows that growing and developing people is the pathway to peak individual, team, and organization performance. And performance improvement is two to three times more effective when focused on building strengths rather than identifying and fixing weaknesses.

A Deeper Dive: