The Head of Accenture, Pierre Nanterme has said: “We are not sure that spending all that time in performance management has been yielding such a great outcome.” Many companies are abandoning the process saying that it is time consuming and has the opposite effect to the desired one, instead of motivating employees it encourages disengagement and restricts people’s ability to improve. According to the Independent: ‘research has shown that even employees who get positive reviews experience negative effects from the process.’
Some people, however, seem to do well from performance management, they approach it with great enthusiasm, the type of enthusiasm that breeds resentment in their colleagues, as reported in the Independent:
“Employees that do best in performance management systems tend to be the employees that are the most narcissistic and self-promoting,” said Brian Kropp, the HR practice leader for CEB. “Those aren’t necessarily the employees you need to be the best organization going forward.”
The hours spent trying to justify how you have fulfilled targets, often targets you have completely forgotten about during the year and only recall them during reviews or appraisals should ring alarm bells, clearly this is having little effect. Yet schools embrace this idea to help them justify performance related pay increases and other such ways of dividing and ruling their staff.
The whole process of a hierarchical management appraisal system can be a power play by which managers can show off their superiority to their mere underlings, in ‘How People Evaluate Others in Organizations, edited by Manuel London, it states: “Although it is implicitly assumed that the ratings measure the performance of the ratee, most of what is being measured by the ratings is the unique rating tendencies of the rater. Thus ratings reveal more about the rater than they do about the ratee.” These ‘idiosyncratic rater effects’ can tell us a lot about the prejudices of those doing the judging and their preconceptions about the person in front of them.
Nanterme said: “The art of leadership is not to spend your time measuring, evaluating… It’s all about selecting the person. And if you believe you selected the right person, then you give that person the freedom, the authority, the delegation to innovate and to lead with some very simple measure.” But what if you think the person in front of you is ‘the wrong person’, then you use the whole system to justify your view, ‘See, I told you all along she was a wrong un’
Staff need to be given the freedom to grow and I don’t mean that old management trick of giving them enough rope to hang themselves, freedom should be about nurturing and building strong, supportive relationships throughout the school, and encouraging ‘openness’, no closed classrooms, no big event reviews, just conversations between professionals, encourage the informal ‘professionalism’ that can drive dynamic organisations rather than sterile formal procedures that can do so much to tick a box as the dynamism grinds to a halt… Er, sorry, as the opportunity to reflect on practise… gets in the way of doing it.
It is not just staff who are subjected to such nonsense, in classrooms up and down the country children are subjected to third rate performance management targets and appraisals, taking a huge amount of lesson time. Big data, give us lots of data, is the cry! Managers justifying their pay scale chasing teachers for DATA, MORE DATA! Instead of teaching and learning, a bureaucratic monstrosity in the name of improving performance is inflicted on pupils preparing them for the 21st century skill of wasting time in pointless form filling. Here is what every teacher should do to resist this peculiar pastime:
- Stop setting target grades for your children.
- Stop setting meaningless target statements.
- Stop children from wasting their time reviewing the targets that you have set them or they have set themselves.
Instead teachers should:
- Spend the time saved by teaching, supporting and nurturing their pupils so that they do better in the day to day.
These simple steps might annoy a line manager or two but they’ll probably help your children do better than they would wasting their time on the second rate managerialism of performance management appraisals that even big businesses like Accenture, Gap, Deloitte, Microsoft, and a number of other companies, where this nonsense began, are abandoning.