3 Ways in Which Annual Performance Evaluations Fail Your Team

How one-sided, infrequent and focused on the past are your performance reviews?

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By Andre Lavoie

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Conducting performance evaluations can cause a lot of issues in the employer-employee relationship. Evaluations can also be perceived as an unproductive exercise, wasting the time of everyone.

Related: Fix, Don't Nix, Your Performance Reviews

A recent report from TINYpulse -- which focuses on employee-management issues -- found that 31 percent of the 100 managers surveyed listed "too time-consuming" as the top reason why they didn't like performance reviews. Some 26 percent of the 100 employees surveyed shared that sentiment. Additionally, bias was a concern: 17 percent of managers and 10 percent of employees surveyed said managers may be biased.

So, what can organizations do to improve employee performance and ensure that they aren't wasting time?

Last year, the consulting firm Accenture outright eliminated annual performance reviews. CEO Pierre Nanterme called the process too costly and said it does not contribute to the goal of improving performance. Other large companies like Microsoft and The Gap have reformed their processes as well.

Here is a look at some common issues associated with annual performance evaluations and a list of alternative solutions:

1. Too infrequent

Assessing an employee's entire year of performance in one meeting can lead to a lot of information gaps. Achievements and shortcomings may fall through the cracks. Due to the fact that annual reviews are inherently infrequent, employees are often surprised by the review date. Additionally, the feedback is far too late to correct performance issues.

Solution: Use continuous corrective feedback. Feedback should be more of an ongoing practice for managers: Workboard found that 72 percent of employees surveyed thought their performance would improve with more feedback. So, greater frequency should be considered: Conducting regular meetings will help employees and their immediate supervisors track successes and failures and give management the opportunity to provide corrective feedback.

Harvard Business Review found that 57 percent of the 899 respondents surveyed said they preferred corrective feedback, and 72 percent said their performance would improve if managers provided corrective feedback. Such assessments should be presented with positivity and should be founded on specific details that provide the employee with context, and a focus on future solutions.

Related: Banish 'Annual' From Your Performance Review Vocabulary

2. Focused on the past

If a performance issue shows up in the review and addresses a project from six months ago, the employee may have problems understanding the feedback. The project may be too distant to recall, or the constructive criticism may be too ambiguous. Managers and employees agree: In the TINYpulse study, 12 percent of managers and 10 percent of employees surveyed said that issues were discussed too late.

Solution: Think 'goals' and look ahead. Focusing feedback on the setting of goals and objectives will encourage employees to look ahead, and to think in terms of solutions rather than past failings. To avoid manager bias by merely seeking their opinions about employees, companies should restructure the evaluation process: Managers should explain what they would do to elevate employees who deserve consideration for career advancement.

These assessments could also help employees develop their own career-development frameworks, where they collaborate with management on setting goals for future responsibilities and build a process to train and educate themselves to develop certain skills to advance their careers.

3. One-sided

Companies don't want reviews to feel antagonistic and preachy. This is a concern because, unfortunately, some employees feel thate they don't get a voice. TINYPulse found that 12 percent of the 100 employees surveyed described evaluations as one-way conversations.

Solution: Self-assessment. Employers can create a comfortable environment for a dialogue, where employees provide a self-assessment and compare it with the manager's feedback. Strong employees who want to grow will proactively reach out to identify ways to improve their performance

Related: 6 Must-Dos for the Next Performance Review

Giving employee a voice is an important step toward an engaged workforce and strong company culture that encourages consistent feedback and provides opportunities for individual and organizational growth.

How are your evaluation practices impacting employee performance?

Andre Lavoie

Entrepreneur; CEO and Co-Founder, ClearCompany

Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the talent-management solution that helps companies identify, hire and retain more A players. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook LinkedIn and Twitter.


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