Why Performance Reviews Are Underperforming

2 min read
Jan 15, 2015

employee frustrated by performance reviewsPerformance reviews have such a bad rap. And they should. This age-old method of feedback is loathed because it’s a disservice to employees. Managers waste time digging into their memory bank for events that happened months ago. And employees have to wait months to hear about how they’re doing.

Since there are so many negative connotations associated with these reviews, it’s about time companies did a complete overhaul with them.

Negative Never Wins

Managers have been using reviews to highlight an employee’s missteps and losses. An employee didn’t finish a project on time? What about others they’ve worked on? If that was the only time they didn’t win, that’s not enough to bring it up.

Performance reviews focus too much on the negative. Instead, praise your employees. Give them a little pat on the back for accomplishments big or small. Or better yet, coach them and put together some goals. If you want to make the most out of their performance, they need to learn how to get better.

Left In The Dust

You follow up with doctor’s appointments when you want to resolve a problem. So why don’t you follow up with your employee after a performance review? You can throw as many goals at your employee, but if you’re not checking in with them, then consider the process incomplete.

Schedule follow-up meetings with your employee to check in on their progress. Are they reaching their goal? Do they need extra guidance? Just find out how they’re doing if you’re really concerned about their development.

One-Way Street

Performance reviews are one-sided. Managers get to voice their thoughts and opinions. But why don’t employees get the same treatment? And we’re not talking about the “rate yourself from 1 to 5” deal.

Let employees tell their side of the story. But first provide them with objective questions like: What was your biggest accomplishment? What are your goals for the next month? This way, you can get a better idea of where an employee see themselves. And from there, you can do your review.

Time Is Of The Essence  

Adobe got rid of the performance review and are now using informal check-ins. They realized that having annual reviews meant that only recent events were getting reviewed. Annual reviews were always too focused on the past, which wasn’t helping employees with their future development.

Take a cue from Adobe, and start a routine for one-on-one meetings. Making these meetings frequent ensures that feedback stays relevant. And if there’s a pressing issue at hand, managers don’t have to wait 10 months until the next review cycle to bring it up.

These reviews are proving to be lackluster and a waste of time. But there are ways to improve them. Keep your employees engaged by having frequent meetings that involve creating goals, having a two-way conversation, and recognition for a job well done.



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