Dreading the annual performance review is one of the stereotypical images of life in the workplace. But is it really as bad as the clichés indicate? Would the workplace be happier if we abolished the review altogether, or is there something in it worth saving?
We asked employees and managers for their real opinions on performance reviews — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our first survey, of 100 employees and 100 managers, told us what is going wrong. In a second survey of 200 employees, we looked for opportunities for change. What both sets of responses revealed was that while many aspects of the process need a serious overhaul, there’s hope for performance reviews yet.
What’s Going Wrong?
So what exactly is so terrible about performance reviews? We asked 100 employees and 100 managers, and here are their top answers:
As we can see, employees and their managers are pretty much on the same page when it comes to their opinions on performance reviews. Here are the major themes in their responses:
- The timing is terrible: There’s a clear message that performance reviews are not a good way to spend people’s time in the workplace. Not only do they take too much time, but they also come too late to do any good.
- There are missing pieces: Performance reviews aren’t necessarily worthless, but the current process is definitely incomplete. Employees are getting rated but not given proper feedback and follow-up on that rating. What’s worse is that reviews are skewed toward what went wrong and what happened most recently. And employees can’t even fix the oversight because their voices aren’t heard in the review process.
- They aren’t fair: Employees and managers alike agree that workers are getting the short end of the stick. Heck, more managers than employees say that they can be biased. Employees can be blindsided by unexpected criticism or getting told that they failed at goals they didn’t even know they were expected to meet.