Performance Evaluations Create "Toxic" Employees

It’s no surprise that psychologists have ranked the annual
“bloodletting” known as performance evaluations among the
list of causes of workplace stress along with long hours,
company bullies, and irrational bosses.

On May 17, The New York Times weighed-in on the issue of
performance appraisals with its article, “Time to Review
Workplace Reviews?”  The article noted the subjective
nature of appraisals, which are often driven by an
employee’s relationship with his/her boss. (see link below)

Research of employees routinely shows that 80% to 90% of
workers rate their own performance well above average
(i.e., a rating of 4 or 5 on a 5-point scale).

Now, insert the traditional performance review where the
manager provides his/her opinion of a person’s performance
using an arbitrary 5-point scale.  The resulting
distribution of ratings will usually track closely to the
 -About 10% of people are rated as a 5,
 -About 30% are rated as a 4, and
 -The remaining 60% have scattered ratings that average
  between 2.5 and 3.5 on a 5-point scale.

Based on the above research, the typical performance
appraisal can leave 30% to 50% of employees with a range
of counterproductive behaviors from subtle forms of
“getting even” to outright “toxic.”  Can anyone tell me
how this will promote increased productivity and

To add insult to injury for employees, the above
distribution of ratings is often not a manager’s actual
assessment of performance, but rather a function of
corporate pressure, which uses the bell-shaped curve of
distributions as some sacred standard.

HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: If traditional performance
evaluations are such a good idea, then, we ought to
encourage married couples to give each other a performance
review on their anniversaries using a 5-point scale and
the same employment attributes as “communication,”
“reliability,” “quality of work,” “quantity of work,” etc. 
Wow, what harmony and cooperation this would promote in a

We need to get managers to stop giving opinions of
performance and start evaluating employees based on 100%
objective data.

If you are interested in the 100% objective process that
we promote to replace traditional evaluations, check out
our webpage below:

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