The Problem with Performance Reviews

Image of two young businessmen using touchpad at meetingPerformance reviews have been a staple of American businesses, and businesses around the world for that matter, for a very long time, but that may be changing. These days, more and more people are advocating for the end of performance reviews. According to a study by Deloitte University, only 10 percent of employers still believe performance reviews are worth doing.

  • Misused – Rather than using performance reviews to gauge an employee’s effectiveness and weaknesses, and searching for helpful solutions and suggestions, today’s performance review is all too often used to determine an employee’s qualifications for a raise or promotion, which can sometimes lead to violations of employment law.
  • Too Infrequent – Employees need to be recognized and rewarded more often in order to stay productive, motivated and happy. Infrequent reviews simply do not offer employees a realistic chance at improving regularly.
  • Too Long – Yearly reviews are a dreaded task because the prospect of trying to go over a person’s entire work year in detail is ridiculous. Very often, yearly performance reviews offer feedback that would only have been useful earlier in the year.
  • Too Subjective – Performance reviews tend to be overly subjective as well. Most of the questions asked during a review depend largely on the characteristics and opinions of the reviewer.

However, despite these abysmal approval ratings and the aforementioned issues, performance reviews can be extremely beneficial when conducted properly. Here are some solutions to the problems discussed above.

  • Simple – Rather than asking a series of vague, overly subjective questions, cut straight to the point. Ask very direct, specific questions and get very direct, specific answers.
  • Routine – Make reviews a regular part of the routine. Once or twice a year isn’t enough to be helpful.
  • Focus – Shift the focus of the review from a bunch of mindless questions and graded areas to specifically evaluating two things; how productive is the employee and how engaged are they? Depending on the ratio of engagement to productivity, you may find an employee needs more training or more responsibility.


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