2. international cultural leaders express great concern for

Discuss the cultural effects of continuous and instantaneous rating systems in
performance management, such as 360 degree performance appraisals, using
carefully analysed examples from The Circle by Dave Eggers.


As open-minded observers of the world’s
struggles and their reflection in the society, international cultural leaders
express great concern for this generation’s hardships in finding the perfect
environment. The harsh trials of mankind are deeply-rooted in societies’ capacity
of self-evaluation, as well as in its general receptiveness towards the need of
local/global awareness. This leads to an undoubted need for future
problem-solvers that can effectively tackle any communication dilemma. Employee,
manager or member of the public, they are all independent wheels of the same
interconnected machine, being driven by inventiveness, mutual respect and shared desire for
greatness (Boddy, Paton 2011).

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By visualising people as the essence of
change, the purpose of this follow-up study is to decipher the advantages and
disadvantages of instantaneous rating systems in performance management. As of
our current state, are technologies used by humans against their own kind? Is
it a fight for a society based upon equal opportunities and constructive
transparency or is it a reliance on legal exploits used to control the world?

Nowadays, effective management
performance is sparked by fulfilling simple, but fundamental conditions: having
a clear view of the projected goals, the presence of a well-grounded range of accessible
information, while the participants are properly engaged by a set of practical assessment
tools and procedures. Acknowledging their results and well-spent effort, as a member
of a specific community, is the most important factor required to highly
stimulate efficiency. (Hackman 2009) In order to create an active society of
conscious individuals, Hackman (2009) generates questions regarding the way an
enterprise should work:


Who has the power of deciding in which
way will a company perform?

Who is accountable for an organisation’s

How is the recognition shared within the
members of a company?

Who are the ones that widen their
knowledge through feedback – the ambiguous
collective learning practice of how others perceive someone’s work, experiences
and opportunities?


Some points are discussed throughout Dave
Eggers’s (2009) novel “The Circle”, where the American writer analysis the patterns
of a business that, through its innovations and influence, becomes a contentious
‘puppeteer’ of a fictional, yet possible future society. He covers a key
responsibility of leaders (Eg: The Wise Man), that involves staying abreast of
the culturally-embedded employee beliefs, where organisations are built upon
people and rearranged into unique hierarchical systems, connected and reliable
on each other. (Handy 2009). Furthermore, the author argues the role and
importance of the public’s judgement, leading to obvious changes in business strategies.
The need for client-centric approaches has become imperative do to the fact
that society is in a full customer-driven revolution, the ease of communication
through the internet turning opinions into goals and making dreams reality. (Konnikova
2014) Clients have become
the main players in the global market, all because of the “death of distances”, concept generated by digital Darwinism,
corroborated with the phenomenon of globalization, in which geography is no
longer important. Information, which the internet provides, will allow people
to have access to the goods and services they enjoy and, more importantly,
understand. (Cairncross F. 1997) These subject is also tackled in The Circle’s
universe, where complete digital transparency is achieved, opening a wider
range of opportunities. This leads us to the absorbing ingredient of Egger’s
novel which is nothing else but the power of knowledge.

This element of
life is described as being the continuous process that reveals different, major
or minor truths, providing intellectual and spiritual improvements. The process
of knowledge takes place as an interaction between the ego and the world.
Obviously, cognitive action has an essential role to play, contributing
essentially to the embodiment of human personality. Knowledge is the foundation
of any breakthrough in society, allowing humanity to advance. As an outcome of progressive
stages of civilization and culture, people capitalized on all forms of education
– scientific, experimental, pragmatic, artistic, religious etc.) – and all
cognitive stages (rational, imaginative, intuitive, affective, sensory, etc.).

However, a more intricate branch of being aware is deciphering the
mysteries behind self-knowledge and how the world sees you as part of an
existential puzzle. It reflects the first steps towards developing a strong
motivation, rewarding both personally and professionally. Albert Einstein suggests,
“Try not to be a successful man, but a valued man!” Youth is
associated with the expression of life-giving enthusiasm, otherwise natural to
the age at which the creative potential is in full ascension. The very word
“enthusiasm” derives from Latin etymology and translates as “God”. The results of
performance evaluation are taken into account for other processes, relating to
human resource management, such as training, refinement, promotion, etc.

In Egger’s ‘The Circle’, the process of
understanding is vastly accelerated by a complex instantaneous rating system, where the
power of feedback comes from the fact that it can either restore/maintain a
good state or change behaviors. Feedback allows people to observe the interpretation
of their actions.

360 degree
feedback, though still quite controversial, is widely used by 21st century
multinationals. For example, last year, around 90% of Fortune 500 companies
turned to this method to evaluate employees. As in Mae’s experience, this
mechanism, which includes feedback from colleagues, subordinates, outside
clients, along with the assessment of the direct superior, is a unique method
by which most employees in the human resources can be analysed. Yet, as any evaluation
tool, it has its advantages and disadvantages.

Organized companies
can use the data collected in the feedback assessment to monitor the weaker
areas of their employees and will, therefore, develop specific training
programs targeted at this lack of competence. This occurred in Egger’s novel,
when Mae’s direct boss in Customer Experience, Dan, a strong believer in the
social environment of the Circle, expressed his disappointment regarding Mae’s
lack off in-person and online social activity, during her early days as an
employee at the company.

Furthermore, the
360 ??degree feedback mechanism helps the staff members see how their work is
perceived by those they work with, and not just by their managers. Some
employees feel disturbed by the criticism of straight forward supervisors.
Feedback from colleagues and business partners gives them the opportunity to
understand their position within their community and what needs to change or
improve in their behaviours. (Eg: The 3% that did not find Mae awesome)

On the
negative side, human resources specialists argue that the most common
disadvantage of this method is that employees may not feel comfortable
providing real feedback, not only to superior, but also to their colleagues.
Without keeping anonymity, employees’ willingness to show their true feelings
is minimal. Another major challenge of this evaluation method is that feedback
may be subjective, therefore ratings sometimes surfacing as being distinct. Moreover,
leaders observe certain features in a different manner than employees do when
evaluating each other.

At the same
time, the outside clients, with whom the employees work, provides the most
important wave of thoughts, arguments and criticism, that companies need to
assimilate. I agree with Sam Wulton, founder of the Wal-Mart brand, when
arguing that: “There is only one
boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman
on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else”. (Ortega B. 1999)
Jeff Bezos, the founder of the famous online company Amazon, which is said to
be the most consumer-oriented company, often reminds employees to be obsessed
with the client by waking up every morning terrified, not of the competition,
but of Amazon’s own customers. That’s why The Circle is portrayed as being
always concerned with the CE overall aggregate scores, emphasizing on
satisfying all of their customers.

Understanding Human
resources involves three distinct activities: behavioural assessment,
assessment of potential and development capacity and evaluation of achieved
performance. Evaluation can be approached in various forms, by managers located
on different levels of the organizational hierarchy, direct subordinates, peers
in equal positions, external experts, joint assessment committees or the
employee himself. Not all evaluations have a positive effect, some being considered
the most despised activities, for a good reason. When they are used for staff
discipline, gratification, job reduction, assessments are perceived by
employees with fear and can lead to insecurities in the working sector. The evaluation of human resource performance should not be limited to
measuring previous efficiency, but rather expand by estimating future

It can be considered (John Krumboltz) that the life of an individual is, among
other things, a succession of learning stages that lead to the formation of a
set of representations. Older experiences are a factor of lasting influence in
the orientation of subsequent behaviours. This suggests that life is built on
past lessons, that are applied almost automatically in interpreting current
experiences. The deterministic and scientific conception of orientation, which
consists in discovering/revealing the ‘student’s’ innate skills, destined for a
certain work environment (‘the right man in the right
place’), is overcomed and abandoned nowadays. It was replaced by an educational
concept, according to which young figures must be formatted in order to be
capable, in any situation and throughout his or her entire life, to make
conscious, realistic and tailored decisions.

In the history of psychology, the introspective method has long dominated,
starting from the idea that humans have direct access to their own presence and
reality. By observing knowledge from the perspective of introspection, it can
be implied that being aware of yourself can be conceived as an inner look, as
an act of self-reflection. After centuries of self-knowledge being the apogee
of philosophy, along with the methods of modern psychology, a scientific
explanation of this path has surfaced. According to lines traced by Carl Rogers
and Abraham Maslow, self-knowledge is an affective and cognitive process that
develops with age and experience. From a psychological point of view, the
complex process of self-knowledge involves several dimensions: the present, the
future and the ideal self. The present ego consists of the social, physical,
emotional, cognitive and spiritual dimension. The future ego is characterized
by how an individual perceives his personal development potential, his
repertoire of aspirations and motivations. The last dimension is that of the
ideal self, which reflects what the individual seeks to represent.
Self-knowledge and self-acceptance are fundamental variables in optimal
functioning and adaptation to the social environment, in order to preserve a
balance between mental and emotional health. According to Carl Rogers and
Abraham Maslow, each person is valuable and, in light of the human nature, has
the capacity to develop and to choose its own destiny, to validate its
qualities and positive characteristics, given that society provides a polished
environment in which it is possibility for the self to enhance.

On another
hand, according to determinists such as Marx, technologies such as rating
systems, through the power of the internet, are not controlled by men, but, on
the contrary, technologies control the people by shaping a society according to
the requirements of efficiency and progress (Ellul 1964). Determinists usually
argue that technology uses advanced knowledge of the natural world to serve the
universal characteristics of the human essence, such as basic needs and human
faculties. Each one responds to a significant discovery aspect of society’s
characteristics of existence. Food and shelter are such demands and stimulate
progress. Revolutionary inventions such as automobiles ‘replace’ feet, while
computers enhance mental abilities. It’s not in an individual’s power to adapt
technology to its whims, but he must rather adapt to these changes as the most
significant expression of our race (Chandler 1977).

A suitable example where instantaneous rating system makes a difference is
in the Uber universe (whose new 2016 inverted “C” logo resembles the one used in
the 2017 movie “The Circle”), where drivers come with a history that is
concretized in a rating, customers being evaluated as well. Therefore, Uber
employees know the person they are about to travel with. These applied technology
gives an insight of a world where many of the daily activities are already
constantly monitored and analyzed: purchases, friends and interaction, hours
spent watching content, playing video games, as well as the names of the video
games you play and movies you watch. Privacy is at risk and, therefore, anonymity
gradually becomes a luxury.

In my opinion,
Egger’s book depicts a world very similar to ours, where the power of the
internet is widely accepted, despite being, ironically, very ambiguous through
its consuming transparency. TruYou, the password system that ensured The Circle’s
domination, reminds me of the open plans advertised by companies such as
Google, Facebook or Apple, desiring to connect everyone by using the power of
their devices and services. They are feeding us instruments that our society cannot
live without anymore. The rewarding cycle, and the effects of dopamine every
time you get a like, a positive response or feedback on social media are
changing the ways we observe our society and, therefore, our selves. We are
an inpatient generation that wants everything ‘now’. An industry where “All
that happens must be known.” Or in a more Orwellian turn: “Secrets are
lies, Sharing is caring, Privacy is theft.”

Therefore, our
society is going through a tumultuous change, as organizations and leaders try
to promote more transparency, through instantaneous rating systems and other techniques.
Dave Eggers novel does an
excellent job of exposing beliefs, movements and the problems technology is
brining into our human culture, providing points throughout his writing that
caution us about a system that could replicate that of The Circle. As a young student of entrepreneurship, I
have the obligation to evaluate my priorities and that of the world,
understanding that working alongside my community and becoming one consolidated
force must be my ultimate achievement.

When demanding
times come, companies and their representatives can reach deep into their
mutual beliefs and principles, so that they
could work together on bigger causes and greater results (Deal, Kennedy 1988).  However, the desire of ‘making our
voices heard’ should not get to a point where it deprives us from our freedom
of individuality, in which life becomes an amorphous mass of ideas and
manifestations that lack originality. Since progress also rises from contradictions, a perfect society is a utopia.