corporate kabuki

By JENA MCGREGOR

Among the hundreds of reasons to hate performance reviews, here’s another: They dull certain parts of our brains. Temporarily, at least.

Brain research shows that when a person’s status is threatened-something that often happens when we’re told in a performance review how we need to improve-activity diminishes in certain regions of the brain. When that occurs, says David Rock, the author of “Your Brain at Work” and the director of an institute aimed at applying neuroscience to leadership issues, “people’s fields of view actually constrict, they can take in a narrower stream of data, and there’s a restriction in creativity.”

Not exactly a state of mind anyone wants to have. But we don’t need neuroscience to tell us why the annual performance review song-and-dance is so universally reviled. We have our own reasons: the endless paperwork, the evaluation criteria so utterly unrelated to our jobs, and the simplistic and quota-driven ratings used to label the performance of otherwise complex, educated human beings.

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