Reading John Byrne’s tweets, I came across his link to a debate on our site about the value of employee performance reviews. I’ve done them for my entire career and would say that at their very best, they’ve been a waste of time. At their worst, they’re demoralizing.

To be fair, maybe they work at some companies. But here are the problems I’ve encountered:

* They’re used to distribute pay raises on a bell curve, and so the distribution of the reviews must follow that same curve. It almost dictates that only a small minority can do excellent work.

* They want to compare people who do different jobs, so people are graded on a host of generic skills and achievements. At one company I know, journalists are grouped under the same rubrics as salespeople.

* Most important, if the reviews are viewed as stupid—and where I’ve worked, they always have been—they undermine employees’ confidence in management.

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