The Case for Changing the Performance Review Process

In the grand scheme of things, performance reviews are a good thing. They offer you an opportunity to connect with your teachers, give constructive feedback, and map out a strategy for personal growth. At least, that was the original intent.

The problems that have arisen with employee reviews seem to stem largely from the formality of the reviews and the infrequent nature of the feedback. As a result, they have become increasingly unpopular.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 employees, traditional performance reviews are considered ineffective. About 37 percent said the process was outdated while 42 percent said that managers were not thorough in their reviews, with some of them citing bias, said TINYpulse, which conducted the survey. These traditional performance reviews were even considered something to be feared by a full 25 percent of the respondents, with employees in the millennial generation especially responding this way.

The problem with annual performance reviews, said Matt Hulett of TINYpulse, is that they’re biased toward recent work — not taking into consideration work performed throughout the year. Many employers also don’t spell out goals clearly, he noted. Another observation was that the process can be time-consuming.

Human resources managers also say it’s time for a change, according to a study by CEB, a corporate research and advisory firm. That study revealed only 4 percent of HR managers said their current system of evaluating employees was effective. More than 80 percent said it was time for a change.

Ironically, one of the things highlighted by researchers it that the concept of giving a “grade” with performance reviews can be inhibiting. Kim Ruyle, a talent management consultant, said that evaluations trigger negative thoughts. That type of anxiety can take away the focus from performance improvement.

A different way of providing feedback, guidance

As a result of that negative feedback, more employers are focusing on giving more frequent evaluations that are more like a one-on-one check-in rather than a formal evaluation. This is the key to providing effective feedback in a format that will be heard.

“If you’re meeting with someone monthly, you’re not going through a complicated rating process every time, and the meetings tend to be less threatening because it’s a more regular kind of event,” said Gerald Ledford, senior researcher at the Center for Effective Organizations, in an article for NPR.

Building a continuous feedback system is really the best way to contribute to growth and provide employees with the direction they need. Changing the format of your performance reviews or teacher evaluations to a more fluid, ongoing process will make all the difference in the world.