Annual Performance Reviews Should be the Icing not the Cake
We are on record (at least twice) for favoring the continual performance review as a critical part of building a more engaged, productive workforce. The benefits of eliminating the annual review as the primary vehicle for delivering a critique of an employee’s performance are multiple (here is a link to just one of the many online rants on the subject):
- Seeking areas of improvement do not wait for up to twelve months before getting attention.
- The opportunity to deepen the relationship between boss and employee by making performance improvement a day-to-day joint effort is unparalleled in its impact on employee engagement and improving performance quickly.
- The “burden” of writing, delivering and responding to an annual performance review is transformed into a confirmation and “stamp of approval” on all the performance achievements and challenges that have already been discussed and dealt with as a team.
A boss’ main job is fostering high productivity within the team for which he or she is responsible. Limiting in-depth feedback on performance is a criminal dereliction of duty that somehow is perpetrated by thousands of managers every year. This must stop!
On the other hand, eliminating a formal annual review that stamps an official seal of approval on twelve months of performance has a use for an organization that needs to document progress, or its lack, whether to justify merit increases to pay or for other reasons.
Making the annual review the icing on the cake, as a slightly more formal “check in” that can wrap up the year, is a very important move that every organization should make.
Here is an article that presents a less draconian view: Fix the annual performance review so that it achieves its objective of raising productivity, by making it the culmination of an ongoing review process supported by objective KPIs that are measured continually.
(Caveat: This last article was written by an HR software vendor, and we don’t recommend jumping right to software to solve what is really a leadership mindset issue. Purchasing software can indeed mask the real problem: Managers who have not yet been taught how to lead effectively!)
We will say this about software, however: If it can remove the burden of actually writing annual reviews by making them drag-and-drop processes (using input already in an employee’s data file), then the software might just be a great boon to all managers everywhere!
Has your organization moved to a more continual performance review process? How has it been structured? Has it delivered on its promise to take the pain out of performance reviews? How could that goal be best achieved?