Employee Engagement & Company Culture | TINYpulse

11 Ways a Nightmare Performance Review Sucks the Life out of Employees

Written by Sabrina Son | Jan 27, 2016 1:00:00 PM

Peformance reviews are meant to help an employee improve their, well, performance. But why is it that most reviews leave people feeling worse about themselves? Check out how these stats from Globoforce pair up:

  • 91% of organizations do performance reviews
  • 51% of employees see their reviews are inaccurate

There seems to be a misalignment between those administering performance reviews and those being reviewed. So how does this impact an employee's work life? Here are 11 ways a terrible performance review process can negatively impact an employee.


1. Dazed and confused

The biggest flaw with performance reviews is that they're not transparent. Employees have no idea how well (or badly) they're doing over the course of 12 months. Then they're caught off guard come review time because managers tend to only remember the recent negative events (thanks a bunch, recency effect).


2. Lost in translation

SOURCE: giphy.com

Without constructive feedback, employees don't know how they can improve their performance at work. And that's in no way helping them develop professionally. Or better yet, that's in no way helping the organization succeed.


3. Misalignment all around

Back to the topic of helping organizations succeed. Goals provide direction — for the company, team, and individual. But when an employee is just doing tasks willy-nilly, they have no sense of how they're contributing to the organization. And when that doesn't exist, employees feel like an unvalued cog in the machine.

Just think about this: a survey by Cornerstone Ondemand found that 49% of employees have an understanding of how their role contributes to the company's business objectives.


4. Employees don't have a voice

SOURCE: giphy.com

Most performance appraisals are one-sided. Meaning, they're all conducted from the manager's perspective. When there's misalignment, employees don't have the chance to state their story; thus, they're given unfair treatment.


(Tired of not having a voice at work? Click here to change that.)


5. Focusing on the negative

Even if you don't mean any harm with the feedback, no one wants to swim in a sea of negativity. This just makes employees feel like they're not doing anything right.


6. Avoiding the negative

SOURCE: giphy.com

Giving only negative feedback is on the same level as avoiding giving out negative feedback. You're not doing employees any good by lying about their performance. Be honest and let them know how they can improve — they'll appreciate it.


7. No standard makes no sense

Many 360 reviews rely on a set of competencies and behaviors such as "this employee clearly communicates with the team." Statements like those result in subjective data because the reviewer eventually compares that individual to themselves. So there are no standards for how employees are being rated.


8. Undervalued performance

SOURCE: giphy.com

When your manager is too overwhelmed or even too bored to engage with individual employees, it leaves them feeling like their performance isn't valuable.


9. Bleak outlook

Managers also tend to focus too much on the past. It's okay to review past events, but in order to truly improve, managers need to focus on the future as well. Otherwise, employees will come out of the review meeting feeling like they have no future at the company.


10. Too little, too late

SOURCE: giphy.com

Performance reviews, especially when only done annually, come too late to fix any issues at hand. Just think about it: if an employee is making the same mistake over and over, instead of addressing the problem right away, you wait 12 months. How much has that mistake cost your company in those 12 months?

Employees won't know what they're doing wrong unless you nip the problem in the bud. Otherwise, they'll think they're doing everything right and will be surprised when you tell them they're not — 12 months later.


11. Survey fatigue

Who wants to spend their time reading and answering 50 questions? By the time employees get to the last few questions, they'll be so worn out that they won't even put any thought or care into their response. And this helps no one at all.

Performance reviews are a necessity. But organizations are going about them all wrong. Frequent check-ins and alignment on goals are the first steps to an effective process.