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Good post Ann,
I wonder if the lack of performance reviews is more of a give up because they are having a hard time designing a program that works and can be transparent.

I have another question about transparency when it comes to market ranges. When are companies going to realize their grade and banding structures are one of the biggest "black boxes" in compensation? It is great to make the ranges public but if no one understands how they were created they are not truly transparent. When employees go on-line to do their own research if they are a Sr. Accountant they are not also looking at pay data for Sr. Marketing Analysts or other role.


Supervisors who want to keep the good will and retain the engagement of their direct reports naturally get anxious about delivering anything but positive feedback. That's fundamentally dishonest, of course, since even great strengths are usually accompanied by great weaknesses; declining to frankly assess both is a disservice to everyone. Nevertheless, failure to level with subordinates about performance seems to be a bigger issue than the obscurity of pay classification programs and progression schemes.

IMHO, the statement below is a bit overly dramatic. The extent of the problem is not this bad. HR can easily find out who's making these decisions and why, assuming there is a functioning HR department.

They do make differentiated investments across employees -- in base salary increases, in bonus awards, in development and promotional decisions, etc. -- which are based on somebody, somewhere making a summary judgment about the employee's performance and potential. It's just that those judgments happen outside the realm of a formal performance management process in a manner that is often discretionary and opaque -- and without the use of descriptive labels.

We have a rising generation of employees, who - if I am to believe what I have been repeatedly told - are accustomed to an environment in which everybody is a winner, everybody gets an "A", and everybody gets a gold star just for showing up.

We also have an environment in which any member of a protected group (i.e. anybody who is not a white male under age 40) who suffers any adverse employment outcome has the incentive (generally cost free and always with no downside) to pursue legal and regulatory recourse.

Accordingly, my suspicion is that rigorous and honest performance appraisal (assuming that there could even be such a thing in the first place) will not be happening anytime soon.

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