Facebook Doesn’t Do Performance Reviews. Neither Should You.

by Frank Roche on February 11, 2012

in Performance

Hey, wanna wreck Facebook? Implement my shitty performance management system that proved to be a failure at GE and everywhere else HR implemented forced rankings. — Jack Welch

Okay, Jack Welch didn’t exactly say that. But he came close.

In an article titled Why Mark Zuckerberg Shouldn’t Listen to Management Gurus, writer Felix Simon calls them out:

Where they [Jack and Suzy Welch] go hilariously wrong is in their proposed solution to the problem. There’s a carrot, which as far as I can tell involves Silicon Valley manager-geeks suddenly transforming themselves into motivational speakers. And then there’s a stick:

With all this exultant “barking,” there also needs be bite — in the form of frequent, rigorous performance reviews. The facts are, if Facebook wants urgency, speed and intensity around its mission, those behaviors must be explicit values that, when demonstrated, result in bonus money and upward mobility — or not.

Any company, in the wake of an IPO, finds itself growing new and previously-unnecessary layers of management, especially in areas like the general counsel’s office, investor relations, and public relations. But for the Welches, that’s not enough: extra management also has to be marbled throughout the organization, to be found everywhere as “frequent, rigorous performance reviews”.

There is absolutely zero evidence that frequent, rigorous performance reviews ever do any good, and quite a lot of reason to believe that they actually do harm. And what’s true of business professionals in general is especially true of Silicon Valley engineers — a culture where pretty much everybody knows exactly who’s hot and who’s not, without any need for formal, frequent, or rigorous performance reviews.

Let me say this: Jack Welch’s ideas about performance management sucked at the time. Now we have the benefit of hindsight and review. And we can say that style of management — if you want to call it that — didn’t work. Look at what he left Jeff Immelt with. Hell, it was easy being a CEO in the heady days of the Big Economy, when you could whip people and call it management. No more.

Go read the rest of the article. And don’t listen to Jack Welch’s management advice.

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