Have Performance Reviews run their course?

What is your opinion on performance reviews? Do you think performance reviews are a valuable tool for organizational effectiveness? Personally, I think it depends on a number of factors and knowing how organizations run, the jury’s out for me. Here’s why.

Not Enough Time

Whoever is in charge of making sure that all the performance reviews are done in an organization knows this only too well. It doesn’t matter if you give the manager 1 or 3 months to complete them, there is always an excuse. The number one excuse is “I don’t have enough time”.

The fact is they do have enough time and probably had all the easy performance reviews done.

The question to ask is “Why don’t they want to do it?” My hunch – not all their employees are superstars.  Managers stall on the difficult ones. Who wants to document their employee’s shortcomings and then be responsible for delivering the negative feedback?

Forced Rankings within Groups

Forced ranking is the process of ranking your employees in order of ability, performance or some other criteria.

Managers are asked to force rank their employees for a number of reasons, such as – to identify who gets bigger increases or who might be at risk during a layoff.  It can create an artificial system for determining true performance because employees are measured against their peers instead of being measured against their performance review results. That’s a message no manager wants to deliver to their employee.

As an example, let’s suppose you have a group of superstars that beat every goal put in front of them and the organization says to force rank your group to figure salary increase percentages. How does a manager tell his bottom superstar that their increase was lower than someone who achieved fewer goals in another group? Where is the fairness in this approach?

Measurable Goals and Behaviors

Performance reviews that use a blend of measurable goals and behaviors get higher marks for me; however, this format makes managers feel uncomfortable.

If a goal is written clearly and has a measurable outcome, that part is a cinch, the only trouble is that someone can make a goal but do it unethically and still be a hero.

The behavioral part is more problematic and challenges managers to 1) write clear behavior goals and 2) discuss behavior shortfalls. Very few managers feel confident in identifying behavior goals or discussing behavior shortfalls without some specific training.

Management hates doing Performance Reviews

It is rare that when I ask a manager if they like doing performance reviews that they say “Yes”. The majority do not believe it is a management tool and prefer to refer to it as an HR process or waste of time.

If the manager is not on board, there is a greater chance the information in the performance review will be sub par. When employees receive feedback that is nonspecific, they do not feel good about their manager or review.

It is time to throw out the Performance Review?

Performance reviews have been around for a long time. The structure and components with in performance review process have evolved, changed or been refined to meet the needs of many other agendas.

So, if management hates or is not good at doing performance reviews, perhaps, it is time to throw it all out and start over.

If you were to do that, what do you think is the sole intent of performance review process? How would you drastically change its role and contribution to the organization?

Author: Lynn Dessert

Lynn Dessert is a certified ICF and NLP Coach specializing in Executive Career coaching in Charlotte NC. She works with individuals to accelerate their career advancement and organizations to fast track leadership skill development. Her career eBooks What To Do After Being Fired and The Secrets to Successful Job On-Boarding give you a roadmap to DIY. Start your discovery process by contacting her at 704.412.2852 today.

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1 Comment

  1. Everything, including performance appraisals, has a life cycle. When they are new they are extremely useful. When they are older, they lose their effectiveness and need to evolve. I believe organizations, departments and employees still need frequent feedback. Performance evaluation should focus on two things: company values and goals. A company needs a cohesive culture and values that each individual lives by. This is what allows every person to participant to their fullest potential. When focusing on how an employee demonstates the values, there are 3 outcomes. They are a role model for, live by or to not exhibit the values. Leaders must then coach employees based on their observations and feedback. Secondly, every company has annual and strategic goals. An individual should also have a maximum of 4 quantitative goals that align to the company goals. Again, the goals will be exceeded, met or not achieved and the appropriate coaching can ensue. This approach will reinforce a strong culture and values which allows the achievement of goals, year in and year out.

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