Should Performance Reviews Rely on the Sole Critic or the Wisdom of the Crowd?

Recognize This! – A critic offers a limited, if informed, view. Combined with the audience viewpoint, a much more clear picture of performance emerges.

Seth Godin sets the bar high for bloggers with short, pithy posts that drive home an important point. A post a few weeks ago honed in on this point with criticism:

“Last week, I saw an extraordinary play on Broadway. It got the longest standing ovation I’ve ever seen in a theater, and Alan Cumming deserved every minute of it. The New York Times critic, though, didn’t like the show.

“What’s the point of his review, then? Clearly the audience, discerning in their own right, disagreed. Do mainstream critics exist to tell us what to like, to warn us off from the not-so-good, or are they there to punish those that would dare to make a piece of work that doesn’t match the critic’s view of the world? Perhaps the critic is saying, ‘people like me will have an opinion like this,’ but of course, there just aren’t that many people like him.

“Have you noticed just how often the critics disagree with one another? And how often they’re just wrong?

“And yet we not only read them, but we believe them. Worse, we judge ourselves, contrasting our feelings with their words. Worse still, we sometimes think we hear the feared critic’s voice before we even ship our work out the door…”

This look at “expert” vs. “crowdsourced” criticism is equally applicable to the hated traditional annual performance review in which the sole “expert” is the manager delivering criticism and feedback from one point of view only. Lacking from the traditional performance review process is the ability of the crowd to give their standing ovation of the performance of their peers.

Now, we have a solution. Globoforce CEO Eric Mosley outlined this approach in his new book The Crowdsourced Performance Review, and summarized it in a recent article in Personnel Today:

“Social recognition allows every employee to be recognised for their work constantly and immediately by those individuals that see or are affected by the behaviour. This ensures that when it comes to the performance review, the work of previous months is not forgotten as it has been recorded as it happens. As the knowledge is derived from peers who work with the employee every day, the feedback holds more weight and allows for reinforcement through tangible examples. This helps the employee understand how their performance affects their colleagues and how it can be improved to have a greater impact.”

Integrating the wisdom of crowds with the singular critic (or manager) is imperative to getting a true, complete picture of an employee’s performance and contribution.

Does your organization rely on solely the manager for performance evaluation or incorporation of the wisdom of the crowds, too?

Derek Irvine

About Derek Irvine

The VP of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their organizations. As a renowned speaker and co-author of "The Power of Thanks" and "Winning with a Culture of Recognition," he teaches companies how to use recognition to proactively manage company culture. Derek holds a B.Comm and Masters of Business Studies from the Smurfit Graduate Business School at University College Dublin.

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