Ah, the business/career advice book, that calm appeal to mature rumination in favor of some innovative approach! That is NOT this book. This is a would-be inflammatory polemic looking to send mobs of its readers, pitchforks and torches in hand, to overturn the oppressive and inefficient old regime and bring in a new and happier age.
Okay, I exaggerate a bit. The book is full of rational arguments establishing the dysfunctionality of the performance review ("PR""). The tone, however, is wholly unlike that of most such books. Culbert writes with the zeal of a righteous preacher, who knows sin when he sees it and strives to extirpate it root and branch. And he wants the reader to join him. He hammers away (sometimes repetitiously, as in all good sermons) at the evil and promotes a remedy at once more effective and virtuous, what Culbert calls a performance preview ("PP").
Other reviewers outlined Culbert's strictures against the PR, so I will not repeat them at length. My own experience has been that Culbert is spot on. The PR is irremediably one-sided, subjective, boss-serving, dishonest, counter-productive and backward looking. It leaves employees demoralized and concerned more about personal "faults" than business objectives.
The PP, as Culbert describes it, at least has a chance to create true teams, with everyone (including the boss) jointly accountable for achieving team goals that reflect business objectives. To work, the PP requires trust and honesty between and among subordinates and boss. Culbert recognizes that this can be difficult both to establish and to sustain and must be worked at. Without trust and honesty the PP approach will fail.
Culbert's views are anchored in his deep belief that a desire for useful work is a central part of our humanity. The work experience, he thinks, should thus be satisfying as well as efficient; and fulfilling as well as profitable. He believes that the PR makes attaining these goals impossible. He may well be right.
This is an interesting and passionately argued book, well worth the reading.