21 Reasons Most Performance Reviews Do More Harm Than Good

There are many ways for a manager to short change the annual performance review process. Here are 21 reasons why performance reviews fail:

  1. The reviewer and employee have a personal friendship outside of work and both individuals can’t differentiate their manager-employee role from their friend-friend relationship.
  2. The reviewer and the employee see themselves as part of a team. Team members are supposed to encourage one another, be supportive in good and bad times. But when the manager has to provide negative feedback or discipline the employee, these actions are viewed as divisive.
  3. When not provided regularly, annual (or even less periodic) reviews can be based on most recent performance, not performance over the course of the year. The results go both ways. Employees who put on their best behavior around review time get favorable ratings and the employee who has a bad couple of weeks gets punished.
  4. Performance reviews are only scheduled when an employee is not performing up to expectations or a company needs to terminate/lay-off the employee.
  5. “You know nobody’s perfect and there is always room for improvement.” The manager doesn’t believe in rewarding an employee with a “10” (out of 10) even when he/she deserves it. Some employers actually use a rating scale of 1 to 9 because no employee deserves a 10 in their minds.
  6. Annual reviews are really justification for salary freezes or smaller than expected salary increases. The manager might downgrade an employee’s performance feeling that with a high rating comes a demand for more money. Likewise, with a high rating, the employee might feel justified in requesting more salary or benefits.
  7. Inconsistency in reviews and multiple standards. One manager might rate an employee a “7” because he/she doesn’t believe anyone deserves a “10” while another manager rates an employee higher than he/she deserves hoping this might boost the employee’s confidence and subsequently his/her performance. (If performance ratings are directly tied to salary, this many times creates tension, conflict and low morale.)
  8. A manager doesn’t distinguish between personality and competence or effort verses results. The manager rewards the employee who is easier to manage even if he/she misses performance expectations and/or can’t do the job.
  9. A manager doesn’t provide the rating an under-performer deserves because if the employee quits, this will make more work for the manager (that is, more interviewing and training….and who knows if the next employee might even be worse!).
  10. “Hey, when you have a minute, I’d like to talk to you.” Performance reviews are “sprung” on the employee.

To read reasons #11 to #21, click here.  

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