Performance Appraisals

Ask most managers how they feel regarding annual performance reviews and you’re likely to hear:

  • “These are such a waste of time; the employees are going to forget what they need to improve upon in a week anyway.”
  • “Employees care more about the percentage of their raise than they do about reviewing the past year or setting new objectives.”
  • “It’s just easier to list positive accomplishments instead of areas to improve upon; unless you’re ready to argue and defend your position.”

Similarly, ask any employee how they feel about the annual performance review and you’re likely to hear comments such as:

  • “My review is written by a manager who I rarely see. I sometimes wonder where he finds the information to provide my feedback when he never even speaks or works with me.”
  • “The review tends to be a compilation of positive events throughout the year, but with very few ideas for improving or earning a larger increase. How am I supposed to get better if my supervisor has no idea what I should do?”
  • “The few suggestions I was offered in my annual review were the same from last year. Did my manager write this last night?”

The traditional exercise of meeting with your employees for less than an hour to review a year’s worth of effort is outdated and demoralizing. Another shortfall of only providing an annual review is that many managers feel they don’t need to provide feedback or support during the rest of the year. Far too many managers rely on the training they received as an employee when managing others and neglect to upgrade their skills.

An alternative to the annual review is to conduct monthly 30 minute mini-reviews. Here’s how to do it: bring two copies of your employee’s monthly evaluation form and review goals and projects in progress. Conduct the meeting in an informal setting other than face-to-face in your office as this promotes more openness and dialogue than a formal setting.

Use this time to praise accomplishments and progress on their goals, challenges they are facing, and anything else on their mind. Give your full attention to the employee and really listen to their message. These 30 minute discussions are highly appreciated by your employees and give them the sense that they are valued. Remember when you were in their position and your manager took you aside to ask you about your work. More than likely, you can still vividly remember the event no matter how many years ago it occurred.

If you conduct one monthly meeting with each employee, the annual review will simply be a summary of all the discussions and progress you’ve already made during the year. There will be no surprises, no angry employees refusing to sign your assessment, and you will have plenty of documentation in which to base your salary increase.

The annual performance review becomes a time to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year and to develop new goals for the following year. The cycle begins anew, when you meet this employee in a month to discuss progress on their new goals.


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