My answer to What's the worst thing about being a manager?
Answer by Ken Larson:
The idea of setting objectives in advance for a performance appraisal period based on a productive discussion with the employee and then reviewing that employee, both on a self-rated and supervisor-rated basis is a healthy process.
However, as a manager in large aerospace corporations I found I was pressured by the executive staff to utilize the process for other motives; i.e. back-fit or modify my appraisals to meet business objectives.
1. Cutting the work force in lean times
2. Advancing younger professionals at lower rates to stay within budget
3. Pressuring an employee to quit or resign
4. Advance a performer who was part of an upper executive family
5. Making monetary rewards not relative to performance (both positive and negative)
I dreaded the process as a result, feeling two-faced in maintaining appearances with my subordinates who were all smart enough to know full well what was going on. We all went through the meaningless drill and played the game – which was really all it was. This occurred regularly in aerospace companies across the nation and the globe. I was a manager in 6 major ones. Really quite a sad situation, but indicative of the nature of the business.
Performance appraisals were one of my biggest career ethical pressure points and drove me out of two companies that in my view were actually full of crooks and in violation of fair labor standards.
Young professionals have to ask themselves whether or not they want to play that game or find alternatives to the big company racket that can sap your soul.