Deming on Management: Performance Appraisal

Guest post by John Hunter, founder of

Dr. Deming called for the elimination of the annual performance appraisal.

quote image - "The idea of a merit rating is alluring. the sound of the words captivates the imagination: pay for what you get; get what you pay for; motivate people to do their best, for their own good. The effect is exactly the opposite of what the words promise." with a photo of Dr. Deming

This post, part of our Deming on Management series, provides some resources to help those getting started in transforming their management system to one based on Deming’s management ideas.

This topic is one that is difficult for many people to accept. Some people see the huge problems that annual performance appraisals cause and immediately see the value in eliminating them. Some don’t. There are more organizations today that have eliminated them (even without adopting other of Dr. Deming’s management ideas) but still many organizations put effort into these every year.

In my experience, rather than wasting much effort trying to convince people about this at the start if they disagree, it is better just to get to work making other improvements first. Then, a couple years into transforming into an evidence based (with an understanding of variation), customer focused, continually improving organization that practices respect for people, the discussions about how bad performance appraisals are will become much easier. The organization has learned to think systemically and to question practices critically, instead of reflexively clinging to current practices.

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quote image - "One gets a good rating for fighting a fire. The result is visible; can be quantified. If you do it right the first time, you are invisible. You satisfied the requirements. That is your job. Mess it up, and correct it later, you become a hero." with photo of Dr. Deming




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