Performance Reviews

Make Performance Reviews Less Dreadful With These 5 Tips

We're searching for top company cultures to be featured on our annual list. Think your company has what it takes? Apply Now »

Performance reviews have earned a bad rap. Employers and employees alike frequently criticize the performance-appraisal process for being a waste of time and negatively affecting workplace morale. In fact, according to the 2013 Employee Recognition Programs survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 49 percent of human-resource professionals believe their performance-review process needs to be re-evaluated.

Related: 6 Must-Dos for the Next Performance Review

The key to conducting successful (less dreadful) performance reviews is to focus them on the development of employees, rather than just evaluating an employee to determine if a raise in pay is deserved. It’s time to review the performance review. Here are five ways to tell an organization’s performance reviews have lost their way:

1. Employee anxiety is at an all-time high

Little in the workplace is quite as anxiety inducing as the employee-performance review. Most of us have been there and know it to be true. If employee anxiety is tangible, however, it may be time to re-evaluate the performance-review process. In an effort to reduce anxiety levels associated with performance appraisals, be transparent throughout the year about employee performance.

Employees who are better prepared for performance reviews will spend less time fearing them. Providing regular feedback, rather than reserving it for formal reviews, will help prepare employees for what will be discussed. Additionally, employees that understand the review process is intended to benefit them will likely be more receptive to corrective feedback.

2. Lack of growth between performance reviews

One of the best methods for determining whether performance reviews are successfully developing good employees into great employees is measuring the growth between past and current reviews. If individual employee goals are not being met and performance has not improved, employers should start by taking a close look at their performance-review process.

How are employees benefiting from employer reviews? Is corrective feedback being given? Are goals being effectively communicated and evaluated? The primary purpose of the performance review should be employee development. Offering plenty of helpful feedback and helping employees set achievable goals for the quarter should be the main focus of the process.

Related: Ask the Right Questions About Your Data to Build Business Value

3. Confrontation vs. conversation

Performance reviews should be a dialogue between employer and employee -- not a one-way discussion. This process is not only designed to develop employees, but also to evaluate a company’s leadership. Encourage employees to supply feedback by asking questions such as, “How can I help to make your job easier?” or “What don’t you like about my management style?” It’s a win-win. Employees will appreciate being asked for their opinions, and employers will gain valuable insight into their own performance.

4. Performance reviews come around once a year

Why companies still insist on having only annual performance appraisals is beyond me. The holiday season is busy enough without the time consuming administration and feelings of unease that can accompany reviews. Rather than waiting until the end of the year to review a year’s worth of performance data, try conducting performance reviews on a quarterly basis.

Regular one-on-one meetings simplify the process of setting relevant goals and monitoring progress. Not to mention, it reduces the amount of employee apprehension associated with more formal, annual performance reviews.

5. Technology plays no role in the process

Employers should strive to keep up with the times -- as far as performance reviews are concerned. That means adopting the latest HR technology, and incorporating it into the review process. For starters, HR tech fosters collaboration between managers and employees during reviews.

It can also improve real-time feedback, which is vital to ongoing employee development. Most importantly, automating portions of the performance-review process can help keep employers and employees organized by allowing users to store and monitor performance data in a single place.

What signs helped you determine a review of the performance review was needed? Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

Related: Can Peer Feedback Lead to Better Self-Awareness?