Why I Don’t Like Yearly Performance Reviews

Performance reviews are pretty much standard operating procedure at most organizations these days.  But I’ve never liked them very much.  They’re awkward, tense meetings, and I honestly don’t think employees or the employer gets much out of it.  The truth is, you should be reviewing your employees pretty much every day.  Tweak small not big.  Talk to them about their performance on a regular basis or project by project.  Influence research indicates that you’ll have much more
impact guiding employees through many small corrections rather than waiting until once a year and unloading on them all at once.

If you store things up and do the “yearly dump” I think it creates many more hard feelings.  Employees need to be reviewed, encouraged, and corrected.  But do it as the problems (or good stuff) happens.  Don’t wait until they’ve forgotten what the reprimand was about in the first place.

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  1. Years ago, I was working for a major firm and was quite unhappy. I had planned a short vacation to interview for a job in another state just two weeks before my annual review. The afternoon before I was to take off, a major project with a new client was placed on my desk with very little direction and the boss had no time to explain. I did my best, but missed the mark and he had to step in while I was away and make it what he wanted it to be. Needless to say, my review, which has been planned over a nice lunch, was moved to the HR office. Clearly, my performance all year had been great, clients loved me, great results. But this one event so close to the annual pow wow cost me my raise. It was the final straw for me. I left less than six months later.

  2. An annual performance review is better than none. I am still waiting for my first performance review after 5 1/2 years in my present position.

  3. Tragically, I think the practice of yearly performance reviews are maintained because, in many cases, it gives the employer the ability to avoid handing out raises or paying their employees more.

    Think about it: No one’s perfect. We’re all likely to make mistakes over the course of a year. And even if our overall performance is impressive, if one keeps track of every mistake and presents them to you in one sitting, it doesn’t look good.

    I prefer Phil’s approach. It requires a supervisor or boss to be more alert, more aware of what his employees are doing, but it’s honest and the most efficient use of everyone’s time and energy.

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