Genius or folly? It depends on whether performance ratings survive the “psychological immune system”
MetadataShow full item record
At the heart of the debate between Colquitt’s and Adler’s (Adler et al., 2016) camps is a disagreement about the degree to which employees can be expected to respond favorably to challenging, negative, or critical feedback. Colquitt and colleagues argue that we often try and avoid blame, select jobs that don’t rate us against others, and respond unhappily to accurate appraisals. Adler and his collaborators, by contrast, are more optimistic. They point to how feedback drives us to seek new strategies, change our behavior, and improve our skills. This same question can be found in the literature in social psychology: How do we reconcile the fact that people strive for both enhancement and accuracy in others’ appraisals? We want others to see us correctly—warts and all—but we also want others’ admiration and respect. We seem to have the competing impulses to improve ourselves and to defend our self-worth against threats (Sedikides & Strube, 1995). In our comment, we describe how these competing motives can be understood as part of a “psychological immune system” that protects our self worth against threats. We consider how this immune system often undermines the efficacy of well-intended performance rating systems. Finally, we conclude by highlighting the potential of strengths-based appraisal systems as a way of reinventing performance appraisal.