UCLA professor of management Samuel Culbert has become a one-person army battling the annual performance review. The first salvo came in a Wall Street Journal op-ed in 2008.
In it, he argued that the reviews enact power plays between a boss and subordinate. They intimidate and subvert without having any impact on pay. Culbert has now expanded his diatribe into a book.
Instead of performance reviews, he recommends performance previews. These conversations would be more balanced and focused on what resources a worker needs to complete his or her tasks.
Culbert is thinking of for-profit institutions when he talks about performance reviews, but such corporate ideas have found a place in academia. In the Department of Medicine, section chiefs this month will be sitting down with faculty for their annual reviews. In the best cases, supervisors will use the opportunity to project ahead more than to dwell on the past.