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Why are performance reviews so frustrating?

Performance Review FrustrationConsider the following scenario:  Taryn is a manager at a mid-sized production company.  She’s sitting in her office with a co-worker when her telephone rings.  She answers; her smile fades; she nods, then hangs up the receiver.  Worried, the co-worker asks if everything is okay.  Taryn nods, slowly, then says, “HR wants my performance reviews.  They are supposed to be in by the end of this week.  I completely forgot.”

Her co-worker’s response of, “Oh, those things” before leaving Taryn’s office sums up what they both think of the company performance reviews.  “That gives me three days to complete fifteen performance reviews, on top of everything else I have to finish,” says Taryn.  “What a complete waste of time!”  Taryn decides she will just give all of her employees the best possible ratings.  That way, she will keep her employees happy, will not have to deal with any complaints or follow-up meetings, and can get back to her ‘real job’.

This scenario plays out in many organizations.  Are performance reviews really a waste of time?  Do they matter?  Why are they so frustrating?  When performance reviews are poorly implemented or part of a poorly implemented performance system, there a certainly disadvantages, including:

1. Employees may quit due to results.
2. False or misleading information may be used.
3. Self-esteem may be lowered.
4. Time and money are wasted.
5. Relationships may be damaged.
6. Motivation to perform is decreased.
7. There may be an increased risk of mitigation.
8. Standards and ratings vary and are unfair.
9. Biases can replace standards.
10. Mystery surrounds how the ratings were derived.

However, there are many advantages to performance reviews when they’re part of a good performance management system.  For example:

1. Employees’ motivation to perform is increased.
2. Employees’ self-esteem is increased.
3. Managers gain insight about their employees.
4. Job definitions and criteria are clarified.
5. Self-insight and development are enhanced.
6. Personnel actions are more fair and appropriate.
7. Goals of the organizations are made clear.
8. Employees become more competent.
9. There is better and more timely differentiation between good and poor performers.
10. Organizational change is facilitated.

The take-away message that many HR professionals will give you is that performance management  does not take place just once a year, nor should performance reviews.  Think about it:  if James is consistently late for work and spends most of his working time on the phone when he does show up, you’re not going to say to yourself, “I must make note of this and bring it up with him in June during his review.”  You’re going to bring it up right away, and by doing so, hopefully gain an understanding of why James is acting the way he is.  Many times, the undesirable actions can be rectified by having a simple conversation at the first instance.  Performance reviews need not be intimidating, one more thing you have to do, or a waste of time.  They are actually a key tool that organizations can use to translate business strategy into business results, and we can help you get there!

The Competency Group can:

  • Conduct a thorough job analysis to identify the key components of a particular job
  • Develop a job description
  • Develop a process for assessing job performance
  • Provide you with the performance review scheduling template and forms

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Tags: evaluation, performance management, performance standards