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Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters [Kindle Edition]

Samuel A. Culbert , Lawrence Rout
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The performance review. It is one of the most insidious, most damaging, and yet most ubiquitous of corporate activities. We all hate it. And yet nobody does anything about it.

Until now...

Straight-talking Sam Culbert, management guru and UCLA professor, minces no words as he puts managers on notice that -- with the performance review as their weapon of choice -- they have built a corporate culture based on intimidation and fear. Teaming up with Wall Street Journal Senior Editor Lawrence Rout, he shows us why performance reviews are bogus and how they undermine both creativity and productivity. And he puts a good deal of the blame squarely on human resources professionals, who perpetuate the very practice that they should be trying to eliminate.

But Culbert does more than merely tear down. He also offers a substitute -- the performance preview -- that will actually accomplish the tasks that performance reviews were supposed to, but never will: holding people accountable for their actions and their results, and giving managers and their employees the kind of feedback they need for improving their skills and to give the company more of what it needs.

With passion, humor, and a rare insight into what motivates all of us to do our best, Culbert offers all of us a chance to be better managers, better employees and, indeed, better people. Culbert has long said his goal is to make the world of work fit for human consumption. "Get Rid of the Performance Review!" shows us how to do just that.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With clear, straightforward (and sometimes profane) language, Culbert (Beyond Bullsh*t) outlines his strategy for creating a "dynamic setting where employees joyfully live up to their potential." Culbert attacks the review process as "self-serving, biased opinion cloaked in a numerical package of claimed objectivity and stated as essential to organizational results." After examining the archaic system with humor and precision, Culbert outlines the shift in mindset that he feels will be necessary to create a more productive working climate. He illustrates his ideas with narratives from his own experience, first-hand tales of woe from stakeholders in the review process, and useful analogies. In addition to advocating for the end of the performance review currently in use, Culbert assails the idea of pay for performance, using humor and insight to outline win-win strategies for managers, decision makers, and even rank and file employees.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Samuel A. Culbert is Professor of Management at UCLA Anderson School of Management. He is the recipient of the American Association of Publishers Best Management Book of the Year award and the Harvard Business Review McKinsey Award.

Larry Rout is an editor at the Wall Street Journal.

Product Details

  • File Size: 482 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Business Plus; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Hachette Book Group
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00351DSNW
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #242,715 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sam Wants You! March 21, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Ah, the business/career advice book, that calm appeal to mature rumination in favor of some innovative approach! That is NOT this book. This is a would-be inflammatory polemic looking to send mobs of its readers, pitchforks and torches in hand, to overturn the oppressive and inefficient old regime and bring in a new and happier age.

Okay, I exaggerate a bit. The book is full of rational arguments establishing the dysfunctionality of the performance review ("PR""). The tone, however, is wholly unlike that of most such books. Culbert writes with the zeal of a righteous preacher, who knows sin when he sees it and strives to extirpate it root and branch. And he wants the reader to join him. He hammers away (sometimes repetitiously, as in all good sermons) at the evil and promotes a remedy at once more effective and virtuous, what Culbert calls a performance preview ("PP").

Other reviewers outlined Culbert's strictures against the PR, so I will not repeat them at length. My own experience has been that Culbert is spot on. The PR is irremediably one-sided, subjective, boss-serving, dishonest, counter-productive and backward looking. It leaves employees demoralized and concerned more about personal "faults" than business objectives.

The PP, as Culbert describes it, at least has a chance to create true teams, with everyone (including the boss) jointly accountable for achieving team goals that reflect business objectives. To work, the PP requires trust and honesty between and among subordinates and boss. Culbert recognizes that this can be difficult both to establish and to sustain and must be worked at. Without trust and honesty the PP approach will fail.
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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
It was OK. I didn't particularly like it. But I didn't dislike it. I liked the title and was hoping for a well-written and well-organized tome that would justify the elimination of Job Performance Reviews in all or most companies that have subordinate employees. Unfortunately the book was more a rant than a researched and logical treatise on why America's workforce would be better off if they didn't have to be subjected to annual performance reviews.

The book is not all that long considering the line spacing was not single and the font size was larger than I am used to reading in a business book. It has 10 chapters and I would list them here if I thought that would help you understand what the book was about. But I'm not going to list them. The meat of the book is found in Chapter 7 entitled "There has to be a better way. And there is." The 12 gripes the author has with performance reviews are listed there as follows:

1. Performance reviews focus on finding faults and placing blame.
2. Performance reviews focus on deviations from some ideal as weaknesses.
3. Performance reviews are about comparing employees.
4. Performance reviews create a competition between boss and subordinate.
5. Performance reviews are one-side-accountable and boss-dominated monologues.
6. Performance reviews are thunderbolt from on high, with the boss speaking for the company.
7. Performance reviews mean that if the subordinate screws up, then the subordinate suffers.
8. Performance reviews allow the big boss to go on autopilot.
9. The performance review is a scheduled event.
10. Performance reviews give HR people too much power.
11. Performance reviews don't lead to anything of substance.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Are we reading the same book? January 26, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
For everyone who gave it 4 stars and up, I have to ask, did we all read the same book?

Here's the issue (and a handful of other reviews mention it but they're drowned out by the positive reviews) THE WHOLE BOOK CAN BE CONDENSED INTO TWO CHAPTERS max.

It is not until you get to page 143 that the author starts talking about his alternative to the PR. Seriously, come on.. If we are reading this book, it's because we are looking for an alternative. I don't need 140+ pages for you to bash on the PR - we get it, it doesn't work, got it, let's move on.

So frankly, if you want to read it - just skip the rest and read chapters 7 & 8. The first six are a complete waste of time. You do not get anything out of it other than a rehash of things you know already - PR as they are done today are not very effective.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Change is Needed - Perhaps More Examples Needed? April 23, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The book is interesting and certainly author Culbert is very passionate about the subject. At times, that passion can translate into a bit of belligerence when, really, if you have bought the book he's likely already convinced you by the first page. As with most of these types of HR books, the author seems to stretch the topic as far as possible (it might have sufficed as a white paper!) and there is a lot of rhetoric and then a few examples. I'm always interested in practice rather than theory but I had no doubt that Culbert knew the subject well and had some great ideas in there for better HR evaluation and incentive practices.

In almost 15 years in HR I've seen many different performance evaluation situations:
- ranging from 1 page to 5 pages
- some that require extensive written feedback, some that require almost none
- evaluations that have all the text auto-entered for the manager when they click on a rating level in each category
- I've had managers who deliver reviews in person/on phone to all of their employees and managers who only put it in writing and send it to the employee (despite guidelines to verbally deliver)
- I've had managers who answer phone calls during the performance evaluation discussion with their employee.
- evaluations that say illegal or inappropriate things, like "because she was on medical leave for four months, I didn't promote her."
- employees who visit my office to say their manager just gave them a bad review and it's the first they've ever heard that there was a problem
- evaluations that speak glowingly of employees, then two months later the manager comes to you and says they've had it and the employee must be fired immediately
- My own manager in HR invited me out to lunch to deliver my review.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
This books is insulting. I was actually seeking out an alternative to change something I already thought was bad. Read more
Published 2 days ago by amazon customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Arrived on time and as promised. Thank you!
Published 4 months ago by Paula Clarke
5.0 out of 5 stars no BS book
Sam Culbert has written a book that I wish I had written...I have been critical of performance reviews for some 30 years now. Read more
Published 14 months ago by David K. Banner
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent read with some good concepts
It was decent and I would recommend it. But it's a bit hard to get through everything to really get to the point... Read more
Published on April 5, 2013 by Eric Walth
5.0 out of 5 stars Get Rid of The Performance Review
Excellent text. Sam has a direct and clear vision that he portrays in this book with plenty of examples to support his ideas. Read more
Published on March 15, 2012 by Mark Shaw
1.0 out of 5 stars No wonder you can get a new book so inexpensively
I don't write reviews but this book is so bad that I am compelled to comment. It is basically 200+ pages of finding different ways to state that performance reviews are across the... Read more
Published on March 14, 2012 by J Chancey
4.0 out of 5 stars Great in theory, but what about in practice?
If you've ever had a boss who asks you for your opinion and bites your head off when you start to offer it, you'll find plenty to like in this book. Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by Carol C.
4.0 out of 5 stars Exaggerating to make a point
This is a provocative "screed" that has received some attention in the management press (thanks in part, I suspect, to the fact that the co-author is on the staff of the Wall... Read more
Published on August 22, 2011 by Paul Bamford
1.0 out of 5 stars Lots of de-construction. No constructive alternatives.
If you want a book that questions the same sacred cows that this author attacks, but does so in a way that is respectful and constructive, try "Catalytic Coaching: The End of the... Read more
Published on May 10, 2011 by A reader
2.0 out of 5 stars Soapbox lecture lacks solid data and real-world examples
Sick of your job? Hate your boss? Wish life was fair? Here's the management book for you! Strap on rose-colored sunglasses and dream along with Samuel Culbert as he browbeats human... Read more
Published on March 21, 2011 by Jared Castle
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More About the Author

Samuel A. Culbert is an award winning author, researcher and full-time, tenured professor at UCLA's Anderson School of Management. His laboratory is the world of work where he puts conventional managerial assumptions under a microscope to uncover and replace dysfunctional practices. He holds a B.S. in Systems Engineering and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. Culbert has developed a blunt yet sensitive way of framing situations that allows for all parties to engage in open, non-judgmental discussions. He believes that only by laying bare ALL the forces that drive people's opinions and actions -- including subjective, self-interested and political biases -- is it possible to have an explicit, honest, yet matter-of-fact conversation. He has spent a career perfecting the skills and style that illicit such straight-talk.

Widely recognized as a candid speaking expert and theoretician, he is author of the recently published Beyond Bullsh*t a probing inquiry that reveals how bullsh*t became the etiquette of choice in corporate communications, and how to develop the conditions required for straight-talk. SmartMoney Magazine named this book to its 2008 list of ten top reads. Dr. Culbert is winner of a McKinsey Award for an article published in the Harvard Business Review, is a frequent contributor to management journals and has authored numerous chapters in leading management-related books. More about this and some of the other books he has authored is available at the website. In press is a book titled Get Rid of the Performance Review: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing - and Focus on the Results That Really Matter. This book, written with Larry Rout, builds on his media grabbing Wall Street Journal article of the same name and is awaiting April 2010 publication. His other authored and co-authored books include The Organization Trap, The Invisible War: The Pursuit of Self-Interests at Work, Radical Management, Mind-Set Management and Don't Kill the Bosses!.

Throughout his career Professor Culbert has creatively welded together three activities: consulting, teaching, and writing. Consulting is where he encounters work effectiveness problems in their contemporary forms, demystifies the basic elements, and formulates alternative modes of functioning. Teaching provides a forum for extrapolating from problems to issues requiring his investigation. Writing is where he packages his understanding for public consumption. His clients include a diverse representation of the private and public sectors: small companies and members of Fortune's 500, international and U.S. governmental agencies, privately funded and not-for-profit organizations. In short, Culbert has been around and gets what's happening. His unconventional views have received a good deal of press, both in the U.S. and overseas.


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