Making Performance Reviews More Worthwhile

In his most recent column for Bloomberg Businessweek, Rick Wartzman, Drucker Institute executive director, takes a look at performance reviews and how to make them more valuable for all parties. Wartzman’s column takes off from a recent speech by the head of the federal Office of Personnel Management who explained that current processes across the government “have dehumanized management to a degree that we can no longer ignore.”

Peter Drucker saw this problem long ago, and not just in the public sector. “For a superior to focus on weakness, as our appraisals require him to do, destroys the integrity of his relationship with his subordinates,” Drucker wrote in his 1967 classic The Effective Executive.

For Drucker, in fact, assessing an employee’s performance should always begin with someone’s strengths, not with his or her weaknesses—an emphasis picked up decades later by Marcus Buckingham, Gallup’s Tom Rath, and others. “The effective executive makes strength productive,” Drucker asserted. “He knows that one cannot build on weakness.”