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Are Performance Reviews a Form of Workplace Bullying

bullying In our blog called Big Performance Data? Small Steps we outline how in the new way of working it’s really hard for an employer to even guess at who is most qualified to give you feedback, and we underpinned the reliability of data coming from continuously collecting feedback. Dr. Tim Baker, in his recent blog states that because the when, where, how, and what of performance reviews are determined primarily by the employer, there is an imbalance of power in the workplace.  How are performance reviews done in your organization?  Who decides when your review will be done and when?  How will it be done: does someone determine what forms are used?

How are discussions organized and what tools are used? Who determines how you’re rated and what scales will be used? Often it is the case that the final outcome of a performance review, the employee’s rating, is determined primarily by the employer.

The employee’s rating is based to a large extent on the feedback collected by the employer and it is often the employer who determines who gives the feedback and how it is given.  When a 360° feedback tool is used, for example, the feedback is sometimes even collected anonymously.  Usually the employer has a big say in who is asked for 360°feedback about you. Even worse is when the feedback is collected informally by the employer (let’s say in the hallway or during a meeting).  This presumes that the employer is aware of all the people you’ve worked with throughout the year, the situation in which you interacted with them, and that he also knows who’s qualified to rate you.

So how much power do you really have in the performance review process?  Do you believe there is an imbalance of power?  Do you feel “bullied”?

In Tim Baker’s book “The End of the Performance Review” he recommends replacing performance reviews with 5 conversations where the employee is empowered to drive the conversations.  One of the simple ways to empower the employee and reduce the imbalance is self-service feedback.  By self-service feedback we mean empowering the employee to determine who should give feedback and when.  When employee’s do this the quality and quantity of the feedback improves.  Tools like Katch enable this and address the imbalance of power.  It allows employees to be responsible for collecting feedback from the people most qualified to give it.  Since Katch is an App it allows employees to collect more data points as well.  And when employees bring the feedback to the conversation as suggested in Baker’s book, the employee then becomes truly empowered to drive the performance review.

It’s time to stop bullying us this way. What is your opinion? Add your comments.

Sandra, business developer & investor in Katch




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