Make Performance Reviews Reward the Right People

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Company culture is crucial to a well-functioning workplace. We just take that as a given now, that cooperation and teamwork are the most important parts of your day-to-day. Until it's time for performance reviews, that is — then all bets are off and it's every person for themselves.

This dynamic can wind up rewarding the people the office actually likes the least: the brilliant jerks who get competitive about their accomplishments. The team players — who are often women and already in danger of being overlooked — may have made the company run seamlessly, but the loudmouths can game a review to get ahead. The technology startup Atlassian has been experimenting with a new kind of review process to change that, and so far, the results are promising.

As Quartz's Sarah Todd puts it, employees are evaluated on three equally weighted categories: "a 'demonstration of values' (looking at behaviors such as transparent and constructive communication and actively seeking opportunities to help others); 'delivery on role expectations' (measuring at individual achievements); and 'contribution to the team' (focused explicitly on how the employee interacts with and treats others)."

Teams that trust each other are more creative and productive, and some companies are actively working to change the goals of competitiveness to accomplish more, with mutual benefit. It doesn't hurt that previous research has found strong benefits in shorter reviews and smaller, lower-stakes review periods. A company with the best team players moving up the ladder is also probably a happier one, and funnily enough, that's a net positive for the bottom line too.