Here’s Why We All Hate the Annual Performance Review

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Jan 8, 2013

Why does the traditional annual performance review continue to fail as both a performance measurement and management device?

There are a litany of reasons but by far the greatest, most overriding reason for the failure of the annual review to accomplish stated goals is this:

It’s stressful!

Or, as Steve Roesler put it in his All Things Workplace blog:

Managers add stress to their lives by postponing important conversations and letting them build up until their heads start to feel like a balloon waiting to burst. Or, we try to submerge those thoughts until we discover that they tend to pop out in strange and often harmful ways. How many times have we received–or given–a terse comment that really was the result of some long- unspoken feeling?”

If that doesn’t resonate with you, how about this assessment of performance assessments from Denis Wilson in Fast Company:

Let’s cut to the chase: If the only feedback your employees get from you is in the form of a six- or 12-month performance review, it’s time to change your approach to feedback. Dropping bombs on employees once or twice a year only serves to build up pressure and make feedback sessions feel like indictments. And most importantly, it does little to alter behavior and improve performance and productivity, which should be your goal.”

5 reasons why the annual review is stressful

Why is the annual review stressful?

That’s easy, though the list is quite long. Below are just five of the top drivers of stress in the annual performance appraisal process:

  1. Managers don’t want to do it.
  2. Employees don’t want to receive it.
  3. HR dreads the nagging involved to get it done.
  4. The results are notoriously skewed, biased, or flat-out wrong.
  5. A once-a-year check-in on progress, goals, behaviors and outcomes is less than useless.

Busting the myths of performance management

Some would call these five statements my opinion. I don’t. I’ve read too much research and interacted with too many professionals up and down the chain.

These statements are fact – for the traditional annual review process, anyway.

But you can bust the myths of performance management (seven of them by Dr. Pietro Micheli’s count, and he’s a professor at Warwick Business School). How? It’s fairly simple. Put the performance review into everyone’s hands, every day with strategic, social employee recognition.

What do you hate the most about the annual review process?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

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