The Most Hated Business Tool Ever!

The Dreaded Performance Assessment

The original intent of a performance assessment was sincere, inspiring, and productive. Unfortunately, over the years, the performance assessment has singlehandedly become one of the most hated tools ever created! It is discouraging if not damaging for employees and is the bane of existence for most people managers.

As leaders, we must strive to implement tools and processes into our businesses that boost personal development, productivity, and profitability rather than the opposite!

My Experience

I have seen many different versions of performance assessments over the years. Some were effective, some were not, and some were simply demoralizing!  I have seen some years where:

  • There was no assessment at all. I am not sure what this meant. Did they forget about me or maybe I was just not valuable enough for an assessment?
  • I filled out the whole set of forms along with a rating and my manager signed it as is. We got the boxes checked and it was very efficient but not very valuable to anyone!
  • I did a 360 degree evaluation and learned about strengths, weaknesses and blind spots. This was a big effort yet very valuable and perhaps the best form of assessment I have seen.
  • My manager filled out the forms with no input from anyone. This assessment was not much value to me but at least my manager was able to check the “assessment complete box.”
  • My manager solicited feedback from coworkers and completed an assessment. This assessment was helpful but not too enlightening.
  • I was given ungrounded feedback with simple but profound errors that could have been fact checked by my manager with a 30 second phone call. This assessment was extremely demoralizing and damaging!

Regardless of what performance assessment I have received within the workplace, I have always done my own personal assessment and rated my performance against my yearly goals. This is something I learned from Les Hewitt and the Power of Focus program back in the 1990’s.

That’s why I was quite interested when I read about the OKR system that was implemented by Andy Grove at Intel.

OKR – Objectives and Key Results Assessment

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. This was the system that Intel implemented for setting, monitoring, and achieving their business goals. OKRs allowed Intel to keep pace with the tremendous change and technological advancement of the microprocessor field. Once they determined that OKRs worked for the business, they decided to implement a similar system for their employees.

Each year they challenge every employee to come up with their own OKRs that clearly contribute to the successful completion of the larger business OKRs. These OKRs should contain:

  1. An “Objective”: this is a stretch target that is achievable but not easy.
    • It is a qualitative goal that is in alignment with and contributing to achieving one of the overall business OKRs
    • These Objectives must also include development opportunities customized to each employee. Although the individual Objectives contribute to the overall company Objectives, they must also set the stage for employee development.
    • Each person should have about five Objectives
  2. A “Key Result”: these are the success criteria for the Objective. Or, how you achieve and measure incremental progress towards the Objective.
    • Key Results are quantitative goals
    • Each person should have about four Key Results per Objective
    • Key Results should see achievement between 60-70%. Any higher than that and the bar is set too low.

Note that the OKRs should be set so that there are targets each week, month and quarter. This keeps employees and the business focused on meeting their targets.

Take Action

Your business and your employees need a performance assessment system that boosts personal development, productivity and business profitability.

Spend some time this week and evaluate your system. Is it achieving the results your business and employees need? What can you change to make it better? Can you implement a system like the OKRs to give your business and your employees a boost?

Finally, for more information on performance assessments, take a look at:


At the end of each day, you should play back the tapes of your performance. The results should either applaud or prod you.” Jim Rohn


What experience do you have with performance assessments that may provide value to other readers? Leave your comments below!


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