Curing ONE of the Seven Deadly Diseases of Management, Performance Appraisals

Entrenched habits tend to persist, mostly invisible, until poets, reformers and provocateurs start writing, talking and asking questions. They challenge us to reexamine long-standing practices that no longer fit our current world and what’s on the horizon.

This includes the persistent business artifact, performance appraisal, reviled by many, dropped entirely by a few, stuck on the horizon, but maybe not for long.  

Our video below may provide insights into why business habits are hard to break.  This history also offers clues to moving beyond industrial age business habits.

Successful provocateurs challenge us to think differently, via the game changers in this classic Apple video.

Pictured (in order): Albert Einstein, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King, Jr.,Richard Branson, John Lennon (with Yoko Ono), R. Buckminster Fuller, Thomas Edison, Muhammad Ali, Ted Turner, Maria Callas, Mahatma Gandhi, Amelia Earhart, Alfred Hitchcock, Martha Graham, Jim Henson (with Kermit the Frog), Frank Lloyd Wright and Pablo Picasso. The image of a young girl, Shaan Sahota, at the end, opening her closed eyes suggests her awakening to see the possibilities before her.

Thinking differently is where it begins.   

Deming 94 percent Quote

The late W. Edwards Deming could be viewed as a contrarian as well as cage-rattler for corporate institutionalized thinking based in the industrial age. Many of our management structures, now and still being developed, still seem firmly rooted in Henri Fayol’s and Frederick Taylor’s management thinking in the 1900’s.  A century later, any leader today is well served to at least acquaint himself with Deming’s list below to better understand what continues to plague corporate performance today:

The Seven Deadly Diseases of Management

1. Lack of constancy of purpose to plan product and service that will have a market and keep the company in business, and provide jobs.

2. Emphasis on short-term profits: short-term thinking (just the opposite from constancy of purpose to stay in business), fed by fear of unfriendly takeover, and by push from bankers and owners for dividends.

3. Evaluation of performance, merit rating, or annual review.

4. Mobility of management; job hopping.

5. Management by use only of visible figures, with little or no consideration of figures that are unknown or unknowable.

6. Excessive medical costs.

7. Excessive costs of liability, swelled by lawyers that work on contingency fees.

Source:  Deming, W. Edwards (2011-11-09). Out of the Crisis (pp. 97-98). MIT Press


“The chains of habit are too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”

― Samuel Johnson, poet, novelist, moralist, literary critic, biographer and lexicographer


Willy Wonka So Excited Perf Evaluation

I was delighted to meet a group of Human Resources (HR) professionals attending a statewide 25th anniversary conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan who were willing to start the conversation of looking at individual performance appraisal differently.  Most or all of them had experiences of making a change successfully in their lives, sometimes in chaotic circumstances.  They were also willing to propose and discuss some alternatives, or at the very least some necessary questions useful to dealing with the problem of what to do about individual performance appraisals in business.

The gallery below highlights what I’ve been sharing on this topic recently and offers a glimpse of what is coming next.   (Click on a photo to rotate through the slides.)

The second gallery below features highlights of our workshop at the MISHRM statewide conference earlier this month on the topic:  From Chaos to Creativity, Performance Development in a VUCA World, one that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.  Click a photo to rotate through the slides.

What have you noticed about performance appraisal use in your organization?

  • Have you experienced high performance assisted or encouraged by the appraisal process?  
  • When experiencing high achievement moments in your career, in general, has a performance process been a part of this or irrelevant to it?  If it’s been helpful, in what ways?  (What elements are worth saving?)
  • What do you find most useful in helping you achieve, learn and grow on the job?
  • What helps you the most in learning what to do more of, what should stay the same, and what you should stop doing?

What’s next?  See the newest post and video in this performance series here:  

6 Steps Beyond Industrial Age Performance Appraisals


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Thanks for stopping by.   As always, on-topic comments are very welcome!

Related posts & tools by Deb:

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.

Published by dnrevel

Change & transition, Leadership team & organization development. Executive Leadership team coach. My LinkedIn profile:

3 thoughts on “Curing ONE of the Seven Deadly Diseases of Management, Performance Appraisals

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