Performance Evaluation in a shrinking company-and OD rituals

A ritual is a ceremony or action performed in a “customary” way. Many rituals are religious; some rituals have a calming effect; others, when not in context, may be seen as  the manifestation of a psychological disorder.

Organizations have rituals as well; in bad times, these rituals may appear grotesquely inappropriate . Under stress, organizations,  like people often regress.  Performance evaluation during downsizing is an example of regressive behaviour. It makes no sense whatsoever to go through the motions of PE in a shrinking company. It is disruptive, two faced, and senseless.

OD has ritualistic behaviour as well. For example: in todays’ organizational reality, people are often spare parts, yet OD often plays the same song and dance we played decades ago. Under duress like OD is now experiencing in a shrinking economy, there are people who want to revert back to/stick to “pure OD”, whatever that means. Instead, we should be looking at new operating systems for OD. We need to get a hand on our pathological ritualism and wake up.

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2 thoughts on “Performance Evaluation in a shrinking company-and OD rituals

  1. I wonder if the notion of ‘spare parts’ does not mean some explaining? In my view people are spare parts when they work for an organization developing very little value-add i.e (if I produce buckets for Walmart I may be tempted to low production costs); people can also be spare parts when managers in their organization have no clue how to deal with the complexity of human beings. In this later case I observe a disconnect pushing apart natural sciences on the one hand and human sciences. In other term managers grounded in evidence and reasoning may have hard time understanding the language of social sciences often based on tradition or intuition.

    I wonder if your “new operating system” includes more inquiry and more data collection, and the ability to develop a different language.

  2. PE’s serve one purpose in the majority of western organizations – they are legal documents used to justify any actions of the management. They are not designed as learning mechanisms or as development tools – they serve to ‘prove’ that you fired Joe because he was a poor performer and not because he was gay or black or smarter than you. If you praise the person it is to justify why you gave Beulah more money than Gloria.
    I have never seen a PE that was useful. Never.

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