Performance anxiety

I’m no fan of the performance review. In fact I’d class it as the single biggest example of the old joke about the definition of insanity being the repetition of an act whilst expecting different results.

It isn’t working? Then change the form.

Everyone hates performance reviews, they suck the life force out of managers, employees, the HR department and the leadership team. And yet, we kind of need them.

I was having a conversation with a friend last week and they were bemoaning the torture that is the annual performance appraisal. The sentiment went something like this,

“And then they expect us to review people against these stupid f***ing values that make no sense to anyone. Why can’t we just get in, get out and get the job done.”

And I’ve got some sympathy. We all like the idea of a quickie. The performance equivalent of a knee trembler behind the bicycle shed.

But the thing is this, if you think about the best manager you’ve ever had, if you think about the best team you ever worked with, if you think about the most problematic experience you’ve ever had at work. Was it because of the delivery of the work, or was it because of the behaviours and the personal qualities?

My guess is the latter.

The challenge for us in HR, the challenge for those of us who aren’t sleep walking towards conformity and a mediocre stupor, is to think about how we reinvent and rethink this important aspect of our working lives.

– We know the value of human and heart in the workplace, and yet we systemise it to the point of ridicule and derision.

– We know the value of feedback and honest, open discussions, and yet we develop such complex processed that it becomes a task in itself.

– We know that what we have isn’t fit for purpose and yet we persist in tinkering not transforming.

And yet, I just can’t come up with an answer.

That’s what is on my mind. What’s on yours?