Performance Appraisals Series Part 1:  Are Performance Reviews Still Worth It?


For those of you that have just finished their fiscal year in January, it is that time of year again.  The Annual Performance Review is something that you either dread (both as an employee or employer), or look forward to.  The way you feel about the upcoming performance review may reflect how well of a Performance Management System your company maintains.

This is the first of a four-part Performance Appraisals Series covering the following topics:

  1. Are Performance Reviews Still Worth It?
  2. Delivering an Effective Performance Review
  3. How to Prepare for Your Own Performance Review
  4. Case Study – The Cost of Leaders Being Dishonest about Performance.

Companies like Accenture, Adobe and Gap are moving away from annual review and focusing on other methods to evaluate their workforce.  In 2015, several other companies followed suit.  The main problem with Performance Reviews is when they become the main source of communication between leader and subordinate.

How many times have you given an employee feedback about a competency or result that needed improvement, only to stare into the eyes of someone who looked surprised?  If this has ever happened, especially if it has happened more than once, then you might want to rethink how you give feedback on performance.  The main flaw is not in the review process itself but in the subsequent follow-up after.  It is when managers rely on this one time a year review to give feedback on results and set expectations for the upcoming year, where they fail their employees.


The best feedback managers can give are real examples, both good and bad—but with the lapse in time from the event occurring to the annual review, the feedback becomes broader and less detailed,” explains Claire Bissot, HR consulting business development manager at CBIZ, a firm that helps businesses better manage finances and employees.


Effective Performance Appraisals are About:


Driving Results

One of the goals of a performance review is to recognize great results and behaviors throughout the year.  It is also about determining areas that the employee needs to improve on to further develop the competencies required to perform the job.  When both these objectives are combined together, the result is an increase in performance.

How these competencies get measured has been a subject of debate for many years.  A popular measure of performance is what is known as, “the merit system”.

Here is an excerpt from the book, “The Merit System:  The Annual Appraisal:  Destroyer of People by W. Edwards Deming.


“The merit rating nourishes short-term performance, annihilates long-term planning, builds fear, demolishes teamwork, [and] nourishes rivalry and politics. It leaves people bitter, crushed, bruised, battered, desolate, despondent, dejected, feeling inferior, some even depressed, unfit for work for weeks after receipt of rating, unable to comprehend why they are inferior. It is unfair, as it ascribes to the people in a group differences that may be caused totally by the system that they work in.” –  W. Edwards Deming “The Merit System: The Annual Appraisal: Destroyer of People


A little extreme?  Maybe.  It probably depends on who you talk to.  Is the report card system the best way to evaluate your team?  Everywhere I have worked, they measured performance based on a rating scale from 1-4, or 1-5.  A 3 is On Target, which is supposed to mean that you are meeting expectations.  However, there is always a percentage of people who feels disappointed with what they deem as being rated “average”.

How can you drive results?  Celebrate the Wins and coach and support the misses.  Make it about that and not the “number” itself.


Setting Clear Expectations

At the end of the review, it should be clear as to which direction your employee needs to go.  The objective is to create the map that should guide her throughout the year.  This map, should also display where the pit stops are.  These pit stops represent the touch bases and development conversations that will be scheduled throughout the year, to measure performance and follow-up on the goals set out at the beginning of the year.


[tweetthis]“High expectations are the key to everything.” – Sam Walton[/tweetthis]


Building Relationships

Employee development is a partnership between the leader and his direct report.  It is not a 50-50 effort; it is a 100% – 100% effort.  Both parties must equally commit fully to the development process.  An ongoing performance management process builds the connection and relationship between leader and team member.  It also increases the employee’s level of engagement.


“In many ways, effective communication begins with mutual respect, communication that inspires, and encourages others to do their best.”– Zig Ziglar


[tweetthis]”The goal is to provide inspiring information that moves people to action.”- Guy Kawasaki[/tweetthis]


In my next post, “Delivering an Effective Performance Review”, I will review the key steps to improving the review process.


If there is any subject that you would like that I cover further, send me an email and I would be glad to review it.

If you are looking for some key phrases to help you in delivering a great review,  Click Here to Download


or click on the Image below.