Chapter 6 Reading-Wall Street Journal Article Regarding Performance Reviews

September 30, 2009

Before making any concrete judgments on the author’s proposal, I think we need some more specifics. The author of this article focuses on team accountability as a key element of the performance preview method, but I wonder how that would really work. For example, the employee is accountable to his or her manager, who may give a positive or negative review, which will affect compensation, advancement, and possibly the employee’s continuing employment. But how is the manager held accountable? Does this get raised in his or her review? Or is it simply a matter of putting the ball in both courts and forcing employee and manager to say this is where I failed and this is what I can do better. I think the later is a valuable and useful idea, but, while I can see utility in the former approach as well, I am not sure most managers would be willing to adopt it.

Would most managers be willing to adopt a system where they are accountable for every employee who fails? I do not think so. Sure there are many struggling employees who could succeed if their manager found a way to utilize the employee’s strengths and give the employee the feedback and support they need to succeed. But there are also employees out there who are just not good employees and for whom no amount of support or feedback will inspire improved performance. From the manager’s perspective, would you want to tie your future compensation, advancement, and employment to each and every employee who comes under your supervision? While that happens to some degree in the current system—if you cannot manage your team as a whole to succeed you are not succeeding as a manager—it seems a bit extreme to take this down to an individual level. In some cases, there is only so much the manager can do. If the manager is doing everything they can, I am not sure how helpful it is to penalize an otherwise successful manager because they cannot motivate an employee who is a true problem.

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