Why performance reviews are so reviled

Lots of companies have an annual performance review that goes along with the calendar year, which means right now it’s probably on your mind. If you’re a manager, you’re dreading writing them. And unless you own the company, you’re probably dreading receiving yours — no matter if you’re a top notch employee. Even if your performance was fantastic, you know the review won’t necessarily reflect that.

Just how much does everybody hate the whole performance review process? A new survey by GuideSpark, an employee communications company, has some eye-opening answers:

To read just how badly performance reviews stink, click here: Why performance reviews are so reviled

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7 thoughts on “Why performance reviews are so reviled

  1. I have some real “horror stories” about reviews I’ve had in the past, but the “best” one was where I had to sign a form telling me I got $0.00 in bonus. That’s right, a big fat zero.

    I think if I had to do it all over again, even if it meant getting in trouble with HR, I would have laughed, ripped up the paper, and walked out.

    That job was pretty terrible, thankfully the company is gone.

  2. You’re right about almost everything. I disagree that they are useful if it’s the only time you hear feedback. Since the employee already does not have good communication with the manager, they don’t have any trust in the feedback. The performance review has too many ulterior motives for anything written to be taken at face value.

    Our raises were determined first then the reviews written. If they needed money to promote someone, the rest of us got bad reviews to make sure we got less money. None of us believed anything written in the annual reviews. Although it was the only feedback I ever got.

  3. After some years in management, I learned to ask my direct reports to write their own performance reviews. In the clear majority of cases they were harder on themselves than I would have been. In this instance I as their manager could be the good guy and show my staff members how they and I together would work to overcome the deficiencies they observed in themselves. Win-win all the way around, especially when there were monthly follow-ups.

    This approach only works, however, if salary increases, as they should be, are disconnected from performance reviews. Some may ask how to determine salary increases without referring to performance reviews? Good answers to this question are too large for the comment section of this website. Maybe Ms. Lucas can devote a column to answering the question.

  4. We are moving between jobs just too quickly these days for a manager/HR to wait a full year to provide constructive feedback. We’ve got different technologies at our fingertips and the way performance reviews are carried out and delivered should reflect that. I believe that we can review employee performance in real time, on a daily basis. This is especially important for dispersed teams working on projects together.

  5. There was the manager who admitted he’d made up the issue for the “Needs Improvement” section on my review, but (in his defense) said that he needed to put something in that section and “No one reads these things anyway”.

    There was the manager who was informed on Friday that I was being laid off on Monday so he needed to write my review that weekend while he was out of town on a skiing trip. He was (justifiably) stressed and that came through in the review. (I didn’t sign it. Seriously? You’re laying me off!)

    There was the manager who brought up a handful of minor issues from 3 to 6 months ago that I thought were long since resolved as Major Problems That Need Addressing!!!

    Yeah. We hate performance reviews.

  6. One rather large point that has been missed is that there is a huge gap between individual and company performance. For those reviews when I did a great job, the company was not doing well. Consequently, no raise. When the company was doing better, I did not get a great review, again, no raise. When good performance is discounted and forgotten, of course you will lose faith with the process.

  7. If a manager is doing his/her job correctly, a performance review isn’t necessary – you already know how you’re doing. If a manager is not doing his/her job correctly, than a performance review is either a) a big unpleasant surprise telling you things you should have been told months ago or b) a big unpleasant lie concoted by a manager who wants to get rid of you for whatever reason.

    B) happened to me. I was with a company for over 10 years. Got stellar reviews every year. People requested me for projects. Then my manager left. The new manager was a crazy workaholic who wanted to scale the corporate ladder and looked down on anyone who wasn’t like that. She thought I should have (on my own initiative because I was just so darn ambitious) re-write and re-design the whole company website on my “spare” time. I was extremely overloaded. I didn’t have the skills or knowledge necessary to just re-do a major, major website. And it wasn’t even our dept’s job to do that.

    And that was just one thing among many others. All of the sudden I went from the “star” to mediocre at best. I really don’t think I changed. My manager changed – from a human being to a lying sack of crap.

    In the end, I wasn’t one of her “people” so I got a lousy review. The only good thing is that when I finally was let go, it was officially a layoff, so I got unemployment and severance.

    But performance reviews suck. They really do.

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