Content By Chris Woolston

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By: Chris Woolston

Companies spend millions of dollars and burn countless hours conducting performance reviews and devising checklists to assess their employees, and business scholars have studied the issue with great urgency and intensity. The results so far? By all available evidence, formal attempts to rate employees don’t seem to meaningfully improve employee performance or give companies any sort of competitive advantage, says Elaine Pulakos, a management expert and CEO of PDRI, a management consulting company based in Arlington, Virginia.

“They end up being extremely costly and have no impact on productivity,” says Pulakos who discussed the science of employee evaluation in a 2018 issue of the Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior.

Chris Woolston
By: Chris Woolston, Knowable Magazine

More than a decade has passed, but Mary Mawritz can still hear metal-tipped tassels flapping against leather loafers—the signature sound of her boss roaming the halls of his real estate company.

“Whenever I heard that jingling, I would get sick to my stomach because I knew he was approaching,” she says. Her boss had another characteristic sound: Yelling, and a lot of it. He would berate her in front of the whole office and threaten to fire her immediately if she didn’t keep up with his never-ending barrage of deadlines and demands.

Mawritz would go home at night with a splitting headache and a lot of questions: Why did he act like that? Why did he think it was OK to treat people that way?

Lots of workers have asked themselves similar questions, but Mawritz has made a career of it. Now a business management researcher at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business in Philadelphia, she’s one of many experts who are using insights from psychology and business management to tackle the phenomenon of bad bosses, a stubbornly persistent problem that continues to drive people out of promising careers, hurt companies’ bottom lines, and ruin a lot of otherwise decent days.