The Crowdsourced Performance Review: A book review by Bob Morris

CrowdsourcedThe Crowdsourced Performance Review: How to Use the Power of Social Recognition to Transform Employee Performance
Eric Mosley
McGraw-Hill (2013)

How and why all organizations need a better model for performance reviews

Opinions are divided – sometimes sharply divided – about “the wisdom of crowds.” I am among those who agree with Tom Davenport and Brooke Manville who, in Judgment Calls, offer “an antidote for the Great Man theory of decision making and organizational performance”: organizational judgment . That is, “the collective capacity to make good calls and wise moves when the need for them exceeds the scope of any single leader’s direct control.” Eric Mosley also agrees with them and has written this book to explain “how to use the power of social recognition to transform employee performance.” He rejects the traditional performance review for several reasons discussed in the Introduction and urges that it be replaced with a new model, one that “still has structure and formality [but] includes real-time, ongoing crowdsourced input and data…The crowdsourced review reimagines the performance review system and proposes a new model, adding practices that keep pace with the extraordinary changes in business thinking and technology.”

These are among the important business subjects and issues that Mosley discusses:

o The inadequacies of the traditional performance review model
o Recent innovations that reveal the need for a new model
o Its advantages over the traditional model, especially within the new global workplace
o Accommodation of Millennials’ aspirations, values, and preferences
o Competition for talent
o Collective judgment (i.e. crowd sourcing) vs. subjective judgment (i.e. individual sourcing)
o Positive peer pressure
o The power of social recognition
o Dimensions of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation
o Performance review as a process rather than an event
o Retention of talent highly valued by organization, not only by supervisors
o Consistency and continuity rather than a “crapshoot”
o Nourishment of mutual trust and respect
o Relevance of transparency to personal accountability
o The value of “BIG data” to workplace context for continuous improvement
o Importance of social recognition to positive and productive employee engagement

I agree with Mosley that one size does NOT fit all nor will one new model for performance measurement be appropriate for all organizations or even for all departments within the same organization. I also agree with him that an annual performance review (however well-conducted) eliminates the need for continuous feedback. Both are essential but for quite different reasons.

In 1978 at Camp David, several agreements were reached by Israel’s Menachem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat after several days of negotiation hosted by President Jimmy Carter. At a press conference, they were asked how these accords were achieved, given the fact there had been thousands of years of bloody warfare between the two great nations. Prime Minister Begin replied, “We did what all wise man do. We began at the end.” That strategy has compelling relevance for business leaders, especially the increasingly greater challenges they now face.

Insofar as performance measurement is concerned, what are the specific ultimate objectives? Once that is determined, here’s the next question: How best to achieve them? I commend Eric Mosley on the wealth of information, insights, and counsel he provides. Surely he would agree that it would be a fool’s errand for anyone to attempt to apply all of it immediately. He suggests some excellent ultimate objectives to consider and offers a solid framework to achieve them. I presume to suggest that the same power of social recognition that can transform employee performance can also drive efforts to measure it.

Those who share my high regard for this book are urged to check out two others: Dean Spitzer’s Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success, and, Enterprise Architecture As Strategy: Creating a Foundation for Business Execution, co-authored by Jeanne W. Ross, Peter Weill, and David C. Robertson.

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