Posted by: doug308 | October 4, 2011

Performance Reviews

Are Performance Reviews A Thing of the Past?

By Jared Brox · October4th,2011

According to a study by Burke International, a research and consulting firm, of the 70% of employees who receive annual reviews, less than half believe they’re effective at evaluating their performance. It’s a disturbing statistic given that the basic idea behind a performance review is not only to help build individual employees, but also helps ensure a company’s future viability by maintaining a strong productive workforce overall.

So, the question is, are annual performance reviews even worth the time and effort?

The answer is yes… and no. It really depends on whether or not a company is willing to make a commitment to the process. When done correctly, performance reviews are a great opportunity to praise employees’ hard work and dedication or offer coaching in areas where they are lagging behind. However, when performed incorrectly, a performance review could easily turn into a blame session or become rife with insincerity and empty promises and ultimately do much more harm than good to a business’s productivity and employee relations.

While no two companies are alike, and what works for one business isn’t guaranteed to work for another, there are some examples of common pitfalls to avoid that are fairly universal when it comes to performance reviews.

Performance reviews aren’t merely a “checklist” task.
It’s easy to think of employee performance reviews as just another item on your to-do list. They typically only happen once a year, and if there isn’t a plan for follow-up or continual coaching, both employees and managers are more likely to just consider the task complete and put it out of mind until the next year.

Performance coaching should be ongoing – not just once a year. A sustained emphasis on excellence throughout the year is more likely to instill productive behaviors in your workforce than a single meeting at the end of the year.

Performance reviews can’t just skim the surface.
Whether it’s out of an employee’s fear for their job or a manager wanting to avoid conflict, often times true feelings are reserved during performance reviews. One of the most important components of a review is open communication. You shouldn’t feel like you’re walking on eggshells.

Strive for honest and open back-and-forth communication. You can’t change what you don’t discuss. In many cases, the other party may not even realize there is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Performance reviews shouldn’t feel confrontational.
A performance review can’t be productive if your employees feel like they are engaging in a fight to prove they deserve to keep their job. A review should, instead, be focused on highlighting successes and coaching through problem areas.

Be sure the purpose of the performance review is clear. You want your employees to view the process as a positive experience, not a defense trial. When your workforce understands the value of performance reviews, they’re more likely to buy in to them.

One size doesn’t fit all
From industry to industry and employee to employee, it’s important to choose a performance review model that makes the most sense for your workforce. Reviewing a manufacturing employee is going to be a much different process than reviewing an office manager. So, it’s perfectly acceptable to modify your process to ensure the most productive outcome of the meeting.

There are probably about as many performance review models as you have employees. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to use a different process for each individual in your workforce, but it is important to find the method that makes the most sense for different job positions.

For business owners, it’s ultimately your decision whether or not to hold annual performance reviews. And while there is a growing movement to do away with the process altogether, in the end, it really comes down to what is best not only for your company, but for the people who are working every day to ensure its success. If the decision to offer performance reviews isn’t up to you, as a leader you can still strive to keep this opportunity engaging and make it worth the time and effort of you and your employees.


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