Top Ten Performance Review Mistakes HR Professionals Make

To try to boost employee performances, most businesses offer performance reviews on a regular schedule. Unfortunately, many managers and HR professionals never receive specific training on how to make a performance review useful and effective. As a result, performance reviews often end up having little impact on, well… anything at all. Here are the top 10 mistakes:

vague performance review feedback

Mistake #1: Vague feedback.

Mistake #1: Too Vague

Whether it’s a lack of preparation time, an inability to communicate effectively, or a fear of offending an employee, a lot of reviewers use vague language in their performance reviews. Worse yet, some reviews contain only numbers and pre-selected descriptions like “satisfactory,” “needs improvement” and “good.” Good feedback is specific about what the employee is doing wrong, what they’re doing right, and what they can do to improve.

Mistake #2: Isolated

In an ideal world, performance reviews help employees recognize areas of weakness and strength to help improve weak areas while capitalizing on strong ones. But too often this ideal isn’t realized. When managers give annual performance reviews without a timely follow-up, the review is ultimately forgotten and loses its potential to help employees transform and improve. Check in with staff on a regular basis after a performance review to let them know what changes you’ve noticed, where they need to try harder, and if you can do anything to help.

Mistake #3: Dancing Around Uncomfortable Issues

No one wants tell someone he needs a bath or should stop picking his nose at work. But sometimes those issues need to be addressed. If casual reminders and discreet notices don’t fix the problem, the manager or HR person giving a performance review is in the best position to do it. You do no one any favors by avoiding uncomfortable subjects. Tactfully let employees know if they need to step it up with their hygienic routine, wardrobe, or any other uncomfortable topic.

Mistake #4: Emphasizing Only the Positive

Some reviewers avoid addressing negative issues with employees because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or they don’t want their employees to feel angry or upset with them. Emphasizing only the positive aspects of someone’s work performance won’t help them improve, so speak honestly when giving feedback during a review.

Mistake #5: Emphasizing Only the Negative

On the flip side, some reviewers focus almost exclusively on the negative aspects of an employee’s performance. This could occur because of personal conflicts, because a recent incident is top of mind, or simply because the reviewer thinks it’s more productive to fix negatives than to point out positives. Employees need regular recognition for the things they do well, or else they might stop doing them or become demoralized.

Mistake #6: No Constructive Feedback

Often employees are to do a great job but lack the skills, ability, or knowledge to perform as well as they could. Constructive feedback gives an employee a road map to success by letting her know exactly what she can do differently and exactly why that specific change will benefit her, her co-workers and the company.

Mistake #7: Personal Bias

During performance reviews, the more objectivity you can retain, the more you will enable your employees to understand themselves and make positive changes in their work habits. It’s easy to review your favorite employees positively and your least favorite staff members with a critical eye. However, the company benefits most—and so do you—when you can recognize and avoid your own personal issues when assessing employee strengths and weaknesses.

Mistake #8: Waiting

Many managers and HR representatives who are busy, dislike confrontation, are uncomfortable giving compliments, or have trouble communicating, tend to avoid offering corrections or praise until performance review time comes around. Waiting until the review to mention either a major problem with employee behavior or to recognize success leaves a negative impact on employees. Instead of taking the feedback to heart, they simply wonder why you didn’t tell them sooner.

Mistake #9: No Self-Evaluation

Reviewers frequently spend the time during a performance evaluation talking to an employee without asking for her feedback or perspective. Find out what your employee thinks of her performance by asking her to rate herself as well. You may find her acknowledging performance problems on her own and taking ownership of fixing them without you even bringing them up. You may also find that she contributes to your company in ways you had never realized.

Mistake #10: No Employee-Generated Solutions

In addition to not asking employees to self-evaluate, performance reviewers also frequently make the mistake of not asking employees to solve problems on their own. Simply asking, “How do you think you could improve in this area?” makes employees take more ownership of trying to improve. If the communication feels two-sided rather than one-sided, employees are more likely to make changes.

Offer frequent performance reviews, solicit 360-feedback, and integrate everything with employee goals and company value. Get performance management software from TribeHR. Contact us or start a free 30-day trial.


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