Everyone Agrees – Performance Reviews Are the Worst!

By Michael Heller

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Yellow Light Of Performance

Performance reviews are a lot like the yellow light panic attack. You know, where you see a yellow light and you spend the next few milli-seconds choosing to slow down or gun it to make it through. As a leader, you make the choice to slow down and stop to really evaluate every individual employee, or speed up and just power through. The difference? Slowing down means you actually focus on individual accomplishments (not just blanket examples, real examples) Or you take the fast route; a less personalized approach, missing many details and risking employee productivity. 

Reviews are costly for both the company and the employee. We spend thousands, or in some cases, millions of dollars on a meeting typically guided by human memory and impression. An Inc.com survey of between 100 employees and 100 managers found that performance reviews hinder their teams work and have quite a few flaws:

  • Too time-consuming: Managers (31%), Employees (17%)
  • One-way conversation: Managers (12%), Employees (9%)
  • The manager can be biased: Managers (9%), Employees (11%)
  • Objectives are mismatched: Managers (9%), Employees (5%)
  • Only focus on the negative: Managers (8%), Employees (9%)
  • No follow-up is given: Managers (8%), Employees (9%)
  • No feedback is given: Managers (7%), Employees (8%)
  • Blindsided by results: Managers (4%), Employees (5%)
  • Issues are discussed too late: Managers (4%), Employees (8%)
  • Only discuss recent topics: Managers (4%), Employees (9%)
  • Based on anecdotal memory: Managers (4%), Employees (8%)

All of this has led some organizations to completely do away with reviews to instead experiment with what works best for their company and employees.

Green Light (Means Go)

Explore the idea of having feedback or “reviews” on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Seem like too much? It’s not as far-fetched as you might think. More and more companies are taking part in throwing out the old way of evaluating, instead of implementing a combination of performance meetings, ongoing feedback and other performance management techniques. Taking a more specialized approach to performance reviews and management has helped improve employee culture, engagement and relationships among managers and their teams.

Still, think a once a year meeting is less time-consuming? This new way is actually quite effective, and when organized well, can be less overwhelming than the annual review. We put together a few different ways you can start implementing these techniques in your company right away. So here’s your green light. GO:

Micro feedback

Using micro feedback to evaluate an employee’s work on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis will help create a better understanding of what’s expected. It can also help prevent any mistakes that could arise during a project before it’s too late.

Set Time Aside

I’m too busy. That’s an excuse we all use more often than not. But are we too busy to help improve our company and employees? By setting aside time in your weekly schedule to help give feedback to your teams and employees, you will start to see performance quality improve. In fact, 78% of employees said being recognized helps motivate them. This shows your team that you genuinely care about their work and performance, creating stronger relationships among co-workers.

Grab your pen and paper

Next time you talk to your employees or teams, take notes. This may seem like a no-brainer, but this is often overlooked. Keeping track of all your employee's comments as well as what YOU say can be overwhelming and quite frankly difficult to remember. Simply jot down thoughts, ideas and goals developed during brainstorming sessions.

Coach your team

Being a coach doesn’t mean you have one practice and you’re set for the season. Same goes with being a manager and giving feedback. Giving continuous feedback helps your employees stay on track with goals and expectations. It also helps you keep track of your own work. As a manager (coach), you have a lot of the answers and your team needs your input and evaluation consistently. Give a little feedback and watch your team achieve consistent performance.

Bio: Michael Heller

Michael Heller has 20+ years of experience in strategic human resourcestalent management and technology consulting. As an HR executive at Washington Consulting, Digital Management and Deltek, Michael led teams to develop innovative human capital management programs and initiatives. Previously, Michael held a variety of positions at American Management Systems and Booz Allen Hamilton where he executed on talent acquisition, total rewards, performance management, strategic HR partnership and philanthropy strategies.


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