The performance review has been under construction for the past few years. Many companies, from Adobe Systems Inc. to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., have ditched much-hated annual rankings in exchange for mushier, more constant feedback.

Dozens of online performance review programs are helping companies "fix" the process. And when those don't suffice, such organizations as General Electric Co. create home-brewed systems. 

But this never-ending, ambiguous performance review is as messy and confusing as ever. And employees and managers alike hate it. 

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