Performance reviews are so flawed. Usually, performance reviews are done either annually or every six months. Some companies do them every quarter, which is definitely better, but in my opinion still not good enough.
I would make it more consistent than that. Employees crave feedback, and managers should be constantly giving feedback so that employees are constantly improving.
Does that not make sense?
Often, the annual performance review is way too formal, with an HR manager needing to be present, and a certain formality that doesn’t lend itself to an open, honest discussion.
Too often, performance reviews are done just for the sake of doing them , and there’s very little follow up, goal setting, or preparation involved.
This makes it an even bigger waste of time for both parties involved.
I believe a lot in gathering consistent data over a long period of time, to have better content to work with for a performance review.
I also think performance reviews should be more frequent than once a year. If you have to have performance reviews, you might as well at least do them properly.
Here are 5 common mistakes made in the performance review process.
1. No Preparation
One of the worst things you can do as a manager is to show up to the performance review unprepared.
The message you’re sending to the employee is that this isn’t an important activity, and that’s the wrong message to be sending.
Take the time to prepare a list of questions to ask, feedback, goals you want to see the employee hit, some numbers to back up what you’re saying, etc.
If you do this properly, it shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to prepare all this data.
This one is actually hard to avoid, because it happens subconsciously, but as a manager you should try your best to avoid any personal biases when reviewing someone.
Generally, if you like an employee, you will subconsciously give them a positive review, and if you don’t like them, you’ll give them a negative review.
This is why I’m such a big fan using data to enhance your performance review, because it will help you to be more objective.
3. Talking Too Much
While this is a performance review, and a chance for you to air your grievances with the employee, don’t talk too much.
Let the employee talk, you’ll learn so much more about what the problems are, or what’s causing any problems.
This really shouldn’t be one-sided. The manager needs to make it an interactive session, with lots of back and forth, and an open dialogue.
This will make the whole process less formal, which will lend itself to more honesty.
4. Not Looking Forward
I understand that it is a review, but don’t only focus on the past. Employees really care about personal growth and their career development, this is a great opportunity to discuss these things.
Try to explain to the employee what their role could be this time next year, and set goals and an action plan for getting there.
Focusing the entire session on the past is a big mistake.
5. Not Looking At The Full Picture
Naturally, as humans we tend to remember recent events more vividly, so a big mistake that’s often made in performance reviews is not looking at the full picture.
As a manager, you’ll focus on recent events, good or bad, and that in itself makes the review flawed.
If you collect data over the entire year, you have a much more accurate picture of the employee’s contributions.
Case Study Of No Performance Review
Adobe is an amazing case study of a company that used to implement rigid, corporate review processes, and then a few years ago, after realizing there was such little value in them, decided to get rid of them for good.
Donna Morris, their senior VP of People found that the performance review process was so broken, and took so long to prepare, that there was no value in it.
She mentions three things that were wrong with the performance review process:
- The feedback loop was too long
- It wasn’t forward facing, meaning they didn’t look at a person’s progress forward
- It pitted person against person
The third point she makes in the one that interests me the most. If you’re trying to make a collaborative culture, it makes little to no sense to have it structured in a way where employees are up against their manager.
They replaced the performance review with regular, one-on-one check-ins.
There are a lot of mistakes that people make in the performance review process, and it often stems from a lack of useful data.