Judgment, Evaluation, Feedback, etc. LO9958

John Constantine (rainbird@trail.com)
Sat, 14 Sep 1996 09:40:00 -0700

Replying to LO9917 --

Thomas Benjamin offered that he was troubled by Performance Appraisals and
suggested that Donald might come out with systems that minimize the
judgemental outcomes of evaluation, feedback, etc.

I completely agree. As long as there appears to be no "break in the chain"
of management training which professes that performance is an individual
thing which must be appraised for a person's worth to the organization,
more energy will go into developing "control" mechanisms and metrics than
into improvement mechanisms and "process metrics".

Having seen many actual and hotly-contested proposals for imposing
performance appraisals upon organizations, it has been my experience that
none have been "successful", if by successful is meant separating people
into positions on the bell curve. More often than not, performance
appraisals are part of a larger purpose, linked to "merit" increases or
bonuses, and to most people who have taken part in them, a time of tension
and stress, lest they be tried and found wanting.

The more energy which is put into "controlling" employees, and not into
improving the systems in which they work, the less successful the
organization will be, no matter the size. The standards will not be
quantifiable, assuming that it would be desirable to be so. If not
quantifiable, the appraisal process itself would thus become
"judgemental". This breeds discontent within the organization, conflict
between employees, and wastes energy which might be better applied

The process in my experience usually manages to fall upon an anniversary
day, as if within x time one would know whether or not the employee has
made a contribution to the overall system. This "happens" to coincide
with a budgetary process which triggers a response which is designed to
please, not to take risks, fudge the numbers, take the "accounting"
alternatives available to the employee. This is the Russion method of
responding to "goals and objectives" put forth by the leadership. This is
not a mark of a learning organization, only a mark of an organization
which is bent on control, and what is learned is how to manipulate the
system in many forms and in many areas. Red beads and funnel experiments
don't receive a warm reception in this environment, though they are what
is needed to begin the shift in "management-think".

Every effort should be made in working with organizations to fully
comprehend the damage that is done by holding to the mindset that
employees do "piecework" and thus can be paid (and appraised) by the
numbers. I will have more to say on this in other responses where the
issue deals with a similar root cause.

Finally, (whew!), I have the same feeling Thomas had in reflecting on
Donald's motivation...where is it coming from?


Regards, John Constantine Rainbird Management Consulting Santa Fe, NM http://www.trail.com/~rainbird

Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <rkarash@karash.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>