The Dreaded Performance Review

Good Job - Performance ReviewIt is review cycle again. While I believe it is an important process for managers to have performance discussions the typical process leaves a lot to desire. To be honest, I am not sure the outcome is what is expected by me or my team members. But, it is what most have grown accustom to.

  • Firstly, the process takes to long. In my experience, it takes nearly takes three months from start to finish. Will the typical maanger have dedicated time to spend on writing a solid review? I might suggest  that most managers may view the review cycle as burdensome process.
  • Secondly, the claim is to reward for performance. Reality is that most managers are limited by amount of merit budget to give meaningful award to top performers. In the end, there is little difference between top and average employees.
  • Thirdly, I wonder if employees on the receiving end of the review find the process meaningful. There is the accomplishment section documenting the deliverables and progress made on key projects. Then there is the dreaded development section. Do you work in an organization that has a required forced ranking, where the bottom percent are compelled to exit the company?

The Employee Profile:

  • Top employees are usually self-directed people. They know what work needs to be accomplished and will find the required resources to achieve what they set out to do. A performance review may not be necessary for this group.
  • The middle group of performers are typically the steady workers. They tend to do a decent job and the organization needs this type to maintain the steady state for the work group. This group may not respond to a development plan or performance review. They aren’t doing bad. They are going what is expected.
  • Managers of the non-performing bottom category need an exit strategy, not a performance review.  There are those who have lost interest, not engaged and no longer performing to the role they are paid to do.  Although there might be a small number who may be going through a rough patch and we should rescue.
I am not suggesting that we do away with performance reviews.  It’s just that the current paradigm isn’t the most effective for today’s workforce.  The speed of business and the need to adapt the workforce is much faster than than the annual review cycle.


Is there a better way?

  • Don’t wait until the annual performance appraisal process.  A more frequent communication and dialogue between employee and managers are needed.  It is in the best interest of managers to ensure projects and deliverables are being handled by the most competent teams.  The organization benefits in the end because the group leader is constantly fine tuning and guiding the team to meet milestones.
  • Managers also have the responsibility to help employees to excel.  Human resources can work with managers on identifying those key individual motivators that otherwise is holding the person back from performing.  Aligning personal interest and competencies can propel a low or average performer to a person who can excel.

Photo Credit:   stevendepolo @ flickr

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