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Change Your World

Yes, you, we – all of us – can change the world of work. We can make it more humane, more honest, more productive. And we can do it by changing the relationship that is more important to the workplace than anything else: the one that exists between boss and subordinate.

The Performance Review epitomizes everything that is wrong with the way things too often work now. The Performance Preview offers a roadmap out of that desert.

First, though, remember that there is no silver bullet for any of this. There is no single way of moving forward. Each company and each manager has to implement it the way it works best for them. If everybody just takes the old formula and replaces it with a new formula, nothing good can come of it. When this happens people stop thinking and go on autopilot. And autopilot is the kiss of death.

Instead, each management unit and each manager must come up with a format, a process, that makes sense for them – relevant to their unique skills, ways of doing business, ways of interacting, the situation they are their company are facing. Sometimes, the process may be company-wide, other times it may be unit-specific, with each unit in the company doing something different. The important thing is that the decision about how it’s done is made locally, and involve as many people and as many voices within the company as possible. Everybody’s life is going to potentially change, so it’s crucial that they feel like they are a part of this change – and not just having it imposed on them.

Advice From the Front Lines:

Comments on performance reviews – and previews

“A formal framework for praise and criticism occurring annually, however constructive it’s intended, does seem to de-motivate. On the other hand, if employees feel they have managers they can count on to help solve problems, then the team dynamic becomes much more constructive and productive and real.”

“As a contractor (once more), I never have to suffer through the ridiculous performance review process ever again. When my customer's pay me, again and again, I know my performance is up to snuff.”

“Í completely agree with your premise that the boss-subordinate relationship should be more of an educational team approach. I try to practice this in my own management style. In reviews I rarely look back, and do so only to clarify situations for points of reference. The majority of the time is dedicated to outlining the future, the needs/goals of the position and how together we accomplish those goals.”

“I’ve given a lot of performance reviews and received a few. And, at the end of the day, I can recall almost none that left the company better off. Day-to-day coaching without the intimidation of putting it in writing, is best for both parties.”

“Given the opportunity to use Performance Previews instead of Performance Reviews, I believe that I could be a better manager and could therefore get better performance out of my direct reports. From a Performance Preview point of view, you give the manager a chance to improve both the employee and the manager performance. What a great change this could make in so many areas.”

“I have worked for a couple of organizations in my career and have found the review process to be an exercise in documenting why my manager likes me or how much I do to make their day less stressful. The review seems to have very little to do with me but rather how I make management feel about themselves. It sometime feels like I am running for student council president. How is that productive?”

“I think it all comes down to Aretha Franklin's old song "R-E-S-P-E-C-T." Honesty can only flow both ways in an environment of respect and consideration.”

“Your approach to replace performance reviews with preview conversations capitalizes on one of my core beliefs: People are energized by the future and snooze with the past.”

“This process of interacting with people is really asking the Boss to be a servant to his/her staff. And truly it is the only effective way to grow a company. Those in leadership become more respected and the subordinate develops a desire to please the boss and the people they work with. The greatest man on earth worked this way and it worked for Him.”

Consulting Services

Performance Preview Advisors is available to help executives, HR leaders -- or management consultants hired by corporate clients – plan and implement the transition from a performance Review system to one that utilizies performance Previews, from a workplace filled with silent, cowed employees to one where open communication and straight talk is the norm. From darkness to light.

Led by Samuel Culbert, also known as Dr. StraightTalk, who has spent three decades researching and facilitating boss/ subordinate relationships, Performance Preview Advisors will help develop a company appropriate process for transitioning from reviews to previews. Advisors can be counted on for thoughtful, multi-dimensional analyses, forthright statements of how they view the company’s situation and candid presentations of what they see needed for long-lasting change that people can trust won’t disappear.

Speeches and Presentations

Sam Culbert is a cut-to-the-chase, infotaining and much in demand speaker who reaches out to audiences by asking them to reflect on personal applications for the ideas he presents. Fully able to capture the interest of very large audiences, his specialty is the intimate, interactive ½ -1 day seminar for executives and managers who work together.

Contact Information


Telephone: 310 825-7784


       Professor Samuel Culbert
       UCLA Anderson School of Management
       110 Westwood Plaza, Box 951481,
       Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481