Why Performance Reviews Suck

thumbs-down1Ok .. it’s not really that performance reviews suck; it’s that they are very often completed poorly.  Some of my personal pet peeves when it comes to performance reviews are:

1. They are considered stand-alone tools.  Instead of coaching, mentoring, training and supporting on an on-going basis, notes are kept in the file (or even worse, in the head) as to all the things not being done well and then brought up during the review.  Years ago, my husband started a new job.  He walked into his three-month review feeling pretty good only to walk out completely deflated because his supervisor spent the entire time telling him all the things he wasn’t doing right. Why in the world would she have let him continue perfecting incorrect behaviour for three entire months instead of helping him successfully transition into a new job?  From a purely selfish perspective, a well-run department would make her look good to her bosses, right?  At the same time, waiting three months or a year to let someone know when they did something well is also not a good idea.

2. Supervisors / managers buy into the “never give more than one exceeded expectations, if any”. Really?  Why?  If someone is performing above standard, if they shine in particular areas, why in the world should that not be acknowledged? Some people subscribe to the belief that the employee will no longer care and stop working.  Who the heck are you hiring then?  If someone is rocking in a certain area, let them know. Provide examples and discuss how to get other areas up or perhaps take on more responsibility based on their particular area of amazingness.

3.  No specific examples are provided.  Not one single example provided should be news to the employee (see point one). But if you are going to indicate someone is still not meeting expectations, know why and be able to provide specific examples. Same holds true for exceeding expectations.  Providing examples brings validity to the review and demonstrates you took the time to really think about this.

4.  Nobody really knows what “meet expectations” means.  If categories are included on the performance review, at some point during orientation and training, each employee needs to know what is expected of them in order to at least receive a “meet” and what could help them get an “exceed”.

5. It’s a “listen to me” session as opposed to a discussion.  When a performance review is considered a stand-alone tool, there is really no reason to spend time discussing how to move from unmet to met or from met to exceeding.  There is no reason to ask “How can I help you?”.

Stand-alone performance reviews, completed only because it is a task on the to-do list, get stuck in a file and are never looked at again.  Everybody hates them and they are pretty much a waste of time.

I am not advocating throwing out performance reviews. I am suggesting using the performance review as a time to review successes and plan for future successes is time well spent.

What do you think?  Have you ever walked out of a performance review going “that was time sell spent”. What made it valuable for you? 



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