Ugh, It’s Performance Review Time

As a manager, I hated writing performance reviews. I worked hard to make them reflective of achievements, performance and goals. I would spend hours reading the peer and self-evaluations and then writing examples to support my scores.  In the end, it was a grand waste of time because the outcome usually resulted in an above average review of very little value or substance.

I reached out to a good friend who is an HR Executive. I asked about her company’s stance on performance reviews. She stated, that they have never done them for the following reasons:

  • There is little upward mobility at her firm
  • Staff are experienced and self-motivated
  • The pay always stays the same
  • If there is a performance issue, they deal with it right away

Research shows there are several reasons why performance reviews are a waste of time:

  • They take up a massive amount of time to complete, discuss and manage the paper trail. In the end, there is no observable benefit.
  • They are unfair because managers have biases and tend to weight recent events higher than those completed at the beginning of the review period. Scoring can also vary significantly between managers, peers and employees.
  • There is a belief that performance reviews are needed as a paper trail should an employee need to be terminated. Management has at times used performance reviews to motivate struggling employees by giving an average or better review. Incorrect or limited documentation on performance reviews can often increase the risk of a legal claim.
  • What is the purpose? You can accomplish a pay raise, give feedback to an employee or promote them without a performance review.
  • They can be very demoralizing and create anxiety.

In 2015, organizations began shifting their approach to performance reviews. They recognized this movement as an opportunity to save money, reduce time, take employee feedback, and create a different experience. Some of the changes included more team meetings to communicate information, quarterly or mid-year informal reviews and year-end discussions on what could have been done better and changes for the next year.

Reviewing the workforce on a more frequent informal basis helps management to readily identify the top and bottom performers. Time can be directed at encouraging, inspiring and removing obstacles that impede success.

The companies who have changed their performance evaluation process agree that it has resulted in a happier workforce, productivity has increased and there has been a cost savings. What changes has your organization made and what were the results?


Contributed by: Amy Noel