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Preposterously Unacceptable

October 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Unless they’re cosmetic tweaks, all proposed alternatives to the unassailable and revered Annual Performance Review (APR) will always be auto-stamped asĀ preposterously unacceptable by the powers that be. It has to be that way, cuz expecting the wolf who’s guarding the hen house to voluntarily give up his post is a slam dunk losing proposition. Nevertheless, let’s look at one of these preposterously unacceptable alternatives just for fun.

Sam Culbert, in “Get Rid Of The Performance Review“, proposes deep-sixing the laughable APR ritual and replacing the stinker with the (crappily named) “performance preview” (PP). The first major feature of the PP is that salary actions are severed from the process. They’re independently determined according to a more objective set of criteria (perhaps like how Joel Spolsky does it at Fog Creek Software). Removing the salary sledgehammer from the hand of the formerly omnipotent manager increases the chance that a straight-talking, two-way conversation regarding individual and organizational improvement will occur.

Mr. Culbert’s face-to-face PP, which can be called into being whenever either side “feels” it should happen, is predicated on both sides answering simple questions like these:

  • What have I been doing recently that helps you and the organization perform better?
  • What have I been doing recently that isn’t working for you and the organization?
  • What can I do in the near future to help you and the organization improve?

Notice that thesw are questions to be answered by both sides – as opposed to one way, judgmental assertions made by the boss “on behalf of the borg” to the subordinate. There are also no formal forms or checklists to be signed and squirreled away in Hoover files to be brandished later for compliance coercion.

This blog post barely scratches the surface of Mr. Culbert’s PP process, but hopefully it’ll spur you to buy his book and learn more about this HR anti-christ. On second thought, don’t do it. If you’re a DICkster, it might bum you out since you’ll vividly realize that you’re helpless and you can’t “fight city hall“. If you’re in the hallowed guild of management (especially the unconsciously evil HR echelon), because of its preposterous unacceptability, it might send shivers up your spine and/or piss you off.

Note: Instead of “Performance Preview” (PP), BD00 would’ve called it something like “I Help, You Help” (IHYH).

Not Arbiters, Nor Catalysts

October 12, 2012 2 comments

When I was young and naive (as opposed to my current state: old and misinformed), I entered the werkfarce thinking that HR departments were supposed to be compassionate arbiters of disputes and employee development catalysts – until I discovered what they actually did:

HR groups are bright shining examples of POSIWID. “The Purpose Of a System Is What It Does” – not what it says it does. Alas, BD00 doesn’t think that most HR departments are maliciously evil, they’re just so indoctrinated and immersed in Tayloresque, Theory-X thinking that “they know not what they do“. How about you? Besides thinking that BD00 knows not what he does, what do you think?

Quid Pro Quo

July 3, 2012 2 comments

Forget about the superficial, ceremonial, “empoyee survey” that is often ignored and quickly forgotten. Wouldn’t it be a great quid-pro-quo move to “allow” each employee in an org to formally judge his/her organization’s behavior, I mean performance, once a year? The content of the review form could be similar to the one in which the employee him/herself is evaluated. After filling out a set of multiple choice questions and allowing for free-form input to justify the selections, an overall behavioral rating could close the review. The rating could be selected from an enumerated list similar to this:

  • Exceeds Expectations
  • Meets Expectations
  • Needs Improvement
  • Unacceptable

Based on the final rating, instead of giving the org a merit increase, the employee would communicate the level of commitment that he/she will really provide in the coming year:

  • Total Commitment
  • Half-assed Commitment
  • Feigned Total Commitment

Of course, much like parents and teachers are expected by “the entrenched social system” to evaluate their children, but not vice-versa, this idea doesn’t have a chance of making it into the mainstream. Nevertheless, BD00 speculates that the practice is done somewhere as part of a continuous improvement initiative?

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