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Get Rid of the Performance Review!: How Companies Can Stop Intimidating, Start Managing--and Focus on What Really Matters Hardcover – April 14, 2010
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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.
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"Who first seduced them to that foul revolt?
The infernal serpent; he it was, whole guile
Stirred up with envy and revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels, by whose aid aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers...."
Without a doubt the first employees to be laid off - to to asked to leave the company, to be cast out from heaven - are the bottom 10%, which may be why the unemployed in search of a job are lepered by employers.
This is "management science" run amok. There is a chain of ranked employees from 1 to N, and one can find out what one's "little n" number is by asking his boss. An employee can move up from position n to position n+1 only if the person already occupying position n+1 is moved down to position n. This ranking is done in slave-mart style by bosses in ranking sessions bidding up or down employees who are not present and who are known only to his or her immediate boss and usually not at all to the other bosses. It is understood that one's immediate boss lobbies for his own people, whether with a wink or not. Thus the bosses' own status, personal strength, and mud-pot perceptions of job importance at a given time - all play a role in where an employee winds up on the chain.
Anyone can peruse a text on statistics, even one published in a business context, and find a diversity of mathematically-known statistical distributions, among which is the bell-curve distribution, whose central limit theorem states that the sum of a large number of random variables is distributed about a single mean value. But usually in employee ranking the number of "random variables" - think employees being ranked - is not large and is not random but homogeneous. If management science really was a science, managers would have to work hard to measure the true distribution of employee performance, which probably would not fit one of the analytically-known textbook examples.
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.