While most employees don’t like performance reviews, those from the millennial generation particularly resent them. Our report, The Truth Behind Performance Reviews, found that the vast majority of millennials think the performance review process needs a complete overhaul.
Poor performance reviews are driving good employees away. According to a study of six companies by Ivey Business Journal, having a quality performance review process that includes frequent, relevant feedback is the number one driver of engagement for millennials. We’ve identified some key reasons millennials are turned off by performance reviews and how to address those issues.
Lack of Frequency
The days of the annual performance review are over. Even large corporations like GE — known for its rank-and-yank tactics and its merciless CEO, Jack Welch — are scrapping this system in favor of more frequent feedback, according to The Atlantic. Millennials have consistently reported that this lack of feedback leads to less growth, as they don’t know how they can improve. In fact, 74% of millennial employees said they feel “in the dark” about how well they’re performing, according to a TriNet study.
While the standard annual performance review is an hour, more often but shorter feedback sessions on specific topics would work better. You can also use electronic tools to measure performance week over week, eliminating the need to sort through performance review data yourself.
About one-fourth of millennials said they’ve called in sick to avoid a performance review and about one in eight said a performance review made them cry, according to TriNet. And who can blame them — does anyone want to endure an hour of criticism?
Instead, millennials want a more informal and positive atmosphere. Approach performance reviews more like a conversation and focus on the positives whenever possible. Allow for employees to evaluate their own performance and discuss any issues they might have with feedback. Some companies have created ways for employees to request feedback whenever they want it.
Another major issue with performance reviews is that the feedback given is too vague. Our study found that 38% of employees thought that feedback needed to be more oriented toward metrics and goals. This avoids employees thinking that the manager is biased against them and keeps the process objective.
Employees should know what your expectations are from the start. Make your feedback specific and measurable. This way employees can actually improve their performance and become stronger professionals.
The same goes for positive feedback. The occasional “nice job” isn’t enough. Tell employees exactly what they’re doing well. Not only will they keep doing it, but they’ll feel like they’re making a significant contribution.
The old system of performance reviews doesn’t work well for most employees. While millennials have some of their own ideas about what could make performance reviews better, it’s safe to say that most employees would welcome some changes.