According to a Gallup study, only 14% of employees strongly agree that their performance reviews inspire them to improve.
That is a remarkably low percentage. While there could be various reasons behind this abnormality, one of them stands out quite clearly viz. annual performance reviews. These reviews did work well to some extent in the past. Now they are simply not suited to the modern workplace.
Annual performance reviews are more focused on past accomplishments and less forward looking. And the main reason that employees do not find the review accurate is because managers tend to fall prey to recency bias. They are more focused on the employees’ recent performance. While they may not necessarily ignore past accomplishments, it is easy to forget most in the first place. Especially when they are not documented properly.
Another reason employees do not like the annual performance review process is because it only consists of analysis of past performance. Very rarely is feedback provided where it was most essential. Not just analysis but regular feedback needs to play a major role in the review process. Yet surprisingly it is less common than you would think.
Consider two situations here:
Employee A carries out her responsibilities in an exceptional manner. She achieves almost twice more than what was expected of her in the same amount of time. Now ideally her manager should immediately recognize her efforts and give her the boost needed to continue performing well. After all, recognition is the most powerful performance enhancer in the workplace. But since the manager decided to follow standard protocol and wait to talk about it in the annual review way down the line, he eventually forgot about it. Not only did the employee feel dejected, she decided to quit and join a company where her efforts are more appreciated.
Employee B on the other hand has been a below average performer and usually requires assistance in most of her responsibilities. When she messed up early in the year, her manager should have given her the appropriate feedback and helped her get back on track. However here too the manager decided to wait for the end of the year to talk about her poor performance. Given that she did not receive any guidance, she continued approaching her responsibilities in the same laid back attitude throughout the year. This affected the overall team’s productivity as well. The manager had to ultimately let go of her to prevent further decline in productivity.
In either situation, the managers should have given regular feedback to both these employees in a timely manner. Employee A would still be happily working there whereas Employee B would have been able to keep her job as well as raise her productivity levels.
In most companies, performance reviews are linked to compensation. Thus the whole point of it becomes that: based on how well or poorly the employee has performed during the assessment period, their compensation will be decided accordingly. If it has been good, then they are given increments as per the standard company policy. If it has been poor then either it remains unchanged or is increased only marginally. In worst case scenarios, the employees are let go owing to their lack of contribution or not having met basic expectations.
The open secret to help your teams accomplish more – timely and accurate feedback
While many companies are now adopting 360-degree feedback, Google took it a step further. It is common knowledge now that Google relies on Objectives and Key Results for their internal grading system. But according to an anonymous review on Glassdoor, to get ahead in the company, employees need to get a positive performance review not just from their manager but also from their peers as well!
Adobe is one of the most popular companies that publicly abolished annual performance reviews and made way for frequent check-ins. The end result was consistent employee productivity owing to ongoing discussions and feedback throughout the year. Regular feedback needs to be a 2 way communication process. Not a one-time activity mandatory at the end of the year.
Our product UpRaise Employee Success is based on the OKR goal setting methodology. Since regular feedback is a major component of OKRs, we have made it possible for all users to give and request contextual feedback as and when required. Our suggestion to Employee Success users is that since all their tasks are in Jira, they need to make it a habit of giving or requesting feedback on successful completion of tasks.
For example, as a product marketing manager one of my responsibilities is to analyze MOZ-SEO insights per month. As I report to the CEO, it is my responsibility to seek his feedback on my findings and suggestions for the next month. While it is more of an FYI, it also allows me to get his suggestions or other insights that I may have missed.
The intent of adding this example here is that while your company may have adopted the concept of regular feedback in the workplace, it is necessary to adopt the right tools for it as well. If you practice modern philosophies with outdated tools, you are highly unlikely to see its benefits.