The Website and Blog of HR Author and Speaker Lori Kleiman

Every Manager’s Dreaded Time of Year… Performance Reviews!


Managers seem to dread the review process. The administrative burden is understandable; often there are countless reviews to be written at a time when your operation is gearing up for the holiday season and year-end. We find however that what managers dread the most is the conversation with the employee that just isn’t meeting expectations – or the stellar employee that they can’t live without, but have to deliver the news that they will be receiving the standard 3% raise.

World at Work, the association focused on compensation and benefits, conducted a comprehensive study on the issue of performance management. Their results show that 58% of organizations think their performance management system is broken. Why do organizations tolerate this? It seems that performance management is viewed as a process that must be checked off the list – not one that adds value and can drive the organization forward. Taking time to study to the process, look at the needs of both the organization and the employee can create a program that will drive value. And if your team is going to take essential time away from your product and your customers – shouldn’t you insist that it add value?

Here are some tips and changes to consider with your management team to make the process of delivering reviews more productive and less stressful.

Get off the annual cycle. Conducting all reviews at the same time of year creates a large part of the stress and invites comparison among employees. Consider reviewing employees during the month of their anniversary. While this was once an administrative nightmare to track – most payroll systems today will handle the tracking electronically and remind managers when the review is due. With this system, managers will typically only have a few reviews to complete at a time.

Simple document – Deep conversation. What seems to be missing from so many reviews is a real conversation between manager and employee of the goals, aspirations, development needs and plans for the future. Be sure this is the highlight for your management team before they complete any review. The written form should give the highlights, and then a meaningful conversation should ensue.

Employee feedback. Ask the employee for highlights of the year before the manager writes the review and share the review with the employee in advance of the meeting. Often the manager forgets about critical milestones that are completed – but the employee will always remember. Give the employee the review a few hours before the meeting and as them to consider it. The performance review meeting should be a two-way conversation. The common process of calling an employee into a room – telling them what you think – and then expecting meaningful feedback is ineffective.

There are many ways to drive value in organization, but employees are certainly one of the most critical. Employees want to do a good job – but they can only do that with constructive feedback. An excellent article on giving performance reviews can be found at The HR Specialist website. Share this with your leadership team and have an open and honest discussion about your values for the performance review process this year. Hold your leadership team to a higher standard than in the past – and expect results from this critical business process.

Photo by bpsusf used under the following license.

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