38Performance Reviews That Make a Difference

Do you dread annual performance reviews? Many people—both leaders and employers—feel this way, for a variety of reasons.

Leaders may dislike performance reviews because they’re not clear on how to evaluate employees. They may not have a good set of criteria to grade them by so the entire process is marked by ambiguity and vagueness. Like most people, they may hate giving negative feedback. In general they end up feeling like performance reviews are an expensive waste of (already very scarce) time—since each year they go through the process and nothing ever changes.

Employees dread performance reviews as well. They may go into these meetings with no idea what they’re about to hear because they’ve received little feedback along the way. However, human nature being what it is, they are probably fearing the worst. During the review itself they sit there feeling judged and criticized and they may leave feeling not too positive toward their leader. Employees want to see their leaders as supporters and allies but a traditional performance review can make them seem like adversaries.

The scenario I’ve just described is obviously bad for all parties concerned. Rather than motivating employees, it can create fear, resentment, and other negative feelings. It’s not surprising there’s been a big push in recent years to get rid of the annual performance review altogether. Yet most companies continue to hold them.

The great news is that performance ...

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