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Quite correct on all points, Ann. But what can you do when your top executive orders you to immediately implement that latest fad they heard about? Jerry McAdams called that "the slam-dunk school of management," where the hottest new trick must be installed ASAP without thought. It can also alter your career trajectory if you do The Right Thing and refuse, advising that diagnosis should precede prescription.

Question!! What do you think the current 'fad and fashion' is right now?

I honestly don't know but would like to hear what folks think???? What is the 'latest and greatest' on the 'close in' radar screen???

Performance management make-over, e.g., no performance ratings????

How does that work?

Anything else?

Hold your breath: elimination of the annual Surprise Party fiasco event, replaced by periodic non-confrontational reviews of expectations and continual formal feedback sessions.

Wow! What a surprise. ;-)

Two new reports on these topics should be coming out about now, but I can't find my review copies any more. Ledford, Lawler and Benson did one study; the other report has the top Microsoft HR guy explaining the success of their window dressing without fully describing it. The more things change...

You are funny, Jim. Love the concept of a 'non-confrontational review'.

Tell me, in addition to the 'non-confrontational review' idea, (Laughing now) what are the current 'fads'? I ask this seriously. I need to be able to understand the difference between 'fads' and the 'roots' of great ideas that are worth testing and experimentation these days.

For example, about 400 years ago, Pat and I were implementing variable pay plans with a host of quality, productivity, and cost goals and these were called 'fads' even though we could show that the existance of these plans was statistically associated with work teams that had better quality, productivity, and cost control.

I fear these plans were probably replaced with rewards such as pencils, watches and trips to Nebraska.

What is 'hot' now I ask you all????

What is even funnier, Jay, is that those who embrace purely positive uncritical constructive "non-confrontational reviews" sincerely believe they are the solution for a better future. Wouldn't that qualify as a "current fad"?

I don't know. I gotta go to bed. I have 'mushed' my brain enough for today.

All I was asking about is current 'fads'. If we don't have any real current 'fads', what is this discussion about?

Guess I need a 'non-confrontational review'???

The upcoming second quarter issue of the W@W Journal will be devoted to a presentation of the recent research by the Center for Effective Organizations and W@W on the cutting edge changes in performance mgt taking place now in industry. Might qualify as a fad. The jury is still out.

Anything "new" can be called a fad. Some of those "new current fads" are recycled approaches that failed to gain traction 25 years ago. Much like Broad Banding at the turn of the millennium: an old scheme that never caught on, then attracted attention for a while and once more languished, still remaining here and there. Others, like Continual Feedback, were best (but not most popular) practices in the past and are being "rediscovered" now.

I'm waiting for Forced Distribution and Totem Pole "rank and yank" systems to again be declared great new ideas. Not. Like Jay, I find oldies rebranded with new names to be rather disappointing.

Well, with the greatest of all due respect to my Elders and Betters...

Running forced distribution and "rank and yank" every five or six years may well be the only way to purge an organization of the deadwood that piles up, whether because you've done away with performance management altogether, or because managers simply cannot or will not do their jobs.

It has to be used judiciously and with some intelligence, but I for one am not willing to condem it out of hand.

In this context, Tony, those two concepts are only mentioned as old ideas waiting to be "re-discovered" as new fads. IMHO, they are clunky, manipulative, inefficient and terribly demotivational systems; but they have their place for those who don't the better ways.

And just being older doesn't automatically make anyone better... ;-)

Thanks all for the great conversation here.

What's percolating around as the new-new idea varies, in my experience. Many out there are just discovering broadbands and Dan Pink's anti-incentive, anti-performance pay "Drive" message.

Agree with Len that "rating-less" performance management probably ranks as the biggest "new-new" out there in the past year. And thanks, Harold, for the reminder of the coming report on CEO's "cutting edge" performance management study. Dr. Ledford has promised us a Café update on the results when they were in (but not before Journal publication) - will follow-up on that.

Point of the post is that - whether the idea is brand new or a re-packaged/re-invigorated classic - we need to carefully assess fit before proceeding. I do realize the difficulty of that when faced with a mis-enthused executive champion; but we'll never be trusted advisors unless we do the work necessary to at least present a well-researched cautionary note.

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