Performance Without Appraisal

Posted on October 1, 2005  Comments (7)

In response to the Alternatives to Stack Ranking? post on the popular Mini-Microsoft blog.

I’m also taking some time to contemplate on Deming’s points and assess how Microsoft is doing against them.

What I would deeply appreciate is real-world experience from people living with stack ranking alternatives.

I strongly suggest chapter 9 (Performance Without Appraisal) of The Leader’s Handbooks, by Peter Scholtes. You mentioned Deming. When asked “If we eliminate performance appraisals, as you suggest, what do we do instead?” Dr. Deming’s reply: Whatever Peter Scholtes says.” (page 296).

Abolishing Performance Appraisals by Tom Coens and Mary Jenkins also provides great practical examples.


Actually, I just noticed the previous post to the mini-microsoft blog pointed to us.

I keep looking at the books about how to grow beyond using industrial-era performance reviews (yes, anti-stack ranking books are out there). I don’t think I’ll be able to fit the books in so they’ll have to wait until I get back. But I am printing out for reading later some various anti-stank ranking articles I found, especially this one over at Curious Cat:

* Total Quality or Performance Appraisal: Choose One by Peter Scholtes.

The comments on the mini-microsoft blog shows performance appraisal continues to be an emotional topic. People on opposite sides of the debate are very passionate.

I admit it took me longer to accept Dr. Deming’s thoughts on performance appraisal than other ideas (and that is even with Peter Scholtes being a friend which gave me the opportunity to discuss the idea with him). So I understand it is not an easy concept to accept. Management Craft has also been focusing considerable energy on this topic recently.

This is the 100th post to the Curious Cat Management Improvement blog.

Previous Performance Without Appraisal post.

7 Responses to “Performance Without Appraisal”

  1. CuriousCat: Performance of People and Appraisal
    June 29th, 2006 @ 9:00 am

    “Why can’t performance be numerically rated and ranked? It can’t be defined operationally, it can’t be measured with any degree of precision, it can’t be separated from other effects, and it is destined to vary over time in any case…”

  2. CuriousCat: Failed Practice - Forced Ranking
    August 19th, 2006 @ 11:44 am

    “Our clients have learned that a performance management system that reinforces a culture of engaged employees can be at tremendous competitive advantage…”

  3. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Performance Appraisal Problems
    October 9th, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

    My best advice is to read chapter 9 of The Leader’s Handbook and read the rest of the Leader’s Handbook and other great management improvement books. And manage using the ideas of Deming, Ackoff, Scholtes, McGregor, Ohno…

  4. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » New Rules for Management? No!
    October 9th, 2006 @ 6:41 pm

    […] “New” rule: “hire passionate people” Wow what a good idea!! I bet no one thought of that before??? The old rule – forced rankings? Now that is something to talk about. Yes that was a bad idea in 1900, 1950, 1990 and 2006. See: problems with forced ranking, performing without appraisal and Dr. Deming on performance appraisal. Even though the old rule was bad I believe GE believed in the new rule. They are not necessarily contradictory – though I believe forced ranking will hobble and force passionate people to leave. […]

  5. Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog » Seven Fatal Flaws of Performance Measurement
    September 25th, 2007 @ 12:13 pm

    […] Performance Without Appraisal – Jeffrey Pfeffer on Evidence-Based Practices – Problems Caused by Performance Appraisal – The […]

  6. WillG
    July 28th, 2008 @ 4:00 pm

    I work for a giant company and we have started the mid-year review cycle. Oh, how I would love to use the Deming model to not have all of this work to do. However, the fixed review cycle does give me the empirical data to help me make decisions when it comes to employee ranking and bonus distribution.

    I wrote a five-part series on Manager 2.0, and incorporated this very topic of Dr. Deming’s. The article can be found here:

  7. Haupia
    October 14th, 2008 @ 5:52 pm

    I am looking for a performance management matrix that I had years ago. It has the standard 5 or 6 columns across w/ “exceeds”, “fully meets”, “does not meet”, etc. Down the side are the standard job requirements such as work quality and quantity. The descriptions in each cell were the expectations of a superhero such as “can jump buildings in a single bound”, “needs a running start to jump over buildings”, “runs into buildings”. Familiar to anyone and know where I can get a copy?

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