Fear And Loathing In Performance Reviews

2 min read
Dec 22, 2014

employee completing a performance review at workUp to 90% of employees dislike the performance review, according to this study. For something that should be helpful, why is it universally dreaded? It’s a subjective process that’s also inaccurate. Let’s dive in deeper into why this traditional form of employee feedback has become one of the most hated aspects of the workplace.

Time Lags Are Killers

A recent survey revealed that 63% of employees believe these reviews are not a true indicator of performance. Probably because they’re only done every 12 months. Can you recall all of your pain points over the past 12 months? Can’t do it? Now imagine a manager trying to remember all of his employees’ highs and lows.

For employees, the 12-month lag means going for months at a time not receiving any acknowledgement of their work. Yet, feedback is directly tied to employee workplace satisfaction. The longer they go without feedback, the less valued they feel.

Shorter, more regular reviews keep things current, remove inaccuracies, and give employees the regular feedback they need to improve and exceed expectations.  

Subjective Questions Produce Subjective Answers

“On a scale of 1 to 5, how creative was Joe?” What does this actually mean, and is everyone in the organization interpreting this question the same way?

Performance reviews are based on questions that are subjective. Are these answers rated relative to how an employee’s peers are performing, the company’s set expectations, or the reviewing manager’s beliefs? Every manager has their own answer to that question, and that’s what makes these reviews so subjective.

And let’s not forget manager bias. An employee can be an underperformer, but because they’re buddy-buddy with their manager, they’re stamped with “exceeds expectations.” A manager can be feeling grumpy that day and fill their review with contempt. When emotion can impact reviews, you know you have a flawed system.

If you’re dreading your next review, consider these options. Don’t go more than four weeks between each cycle. This ensures thoughts are still fresh in your mind and your employees are kept well-informed. Make goals objective and easily measured: “Did Joe complete all of his projects on time?” These types of questions leave no room for personal interpretation and have a specific goal in mind. Once you implement these changes, you’ll start to realize that you and your employees will start looking forward to performance reviews.



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