Employee Feedback Faux-Pas: Performance Appraisal Findings

Posted by Joseph Sherren on November 6, 2017

I often speak to executives about how the obsolete and ineffective Annual Performance Appraisal has outlived its usefulness.  And yet, I still receive pushback from their HR professionals who believe that  trimming the bushes of this dead plant will somehow bring it back to life. It won’t.

There have been too many bad experiences coupled with negative social conditioning surrounding the process from managers and employees, that those efforts are futile.  Now, before anyone goes ballistic, I’m not saying to scrap the performance appraisal and do nothing.  People actually want meaningful feedback ─ and often.

Employees do not want to be assessed once a year, subjectively placed on a five-point scale and plotted on a bell-curve distribution, and to have the results determine salary, bonuses, and promotability.  I have been informed by managers that these reviews can cause work disruptions, anxiety, and even de-motivate employees.

In a recent survey conducted by Adobe, 43% of men and 31% of women reported to have looked for another job after the annual evaluation.  But even more alarming is that 28% of men who were surveyed, and 11% of women have quit following the review.  So how does this benefit the employee, the manager, or the company?

Additionally, much of the workforce will soon be made up of two groups, millennials and retired workers who are returning to the workforce.  When I interview them, the majority say that they will not be a part of an organization that forces this annual ritual.

Instead, what these workers are looking for is regular (monthly/weekly and sometimes daily) feedback and guidance on their efforts, behaviors, and accomplishments.  They are looking for guidance as well as encouragement.

Instead of an assessment, why not provide meaningful discussion on how they can improve, and in turn, what support they feel they need from management to achieve their objectives?

The Adobe survey concluded that reviews drive competition among co-workers, increase personal stress and result in dramatic reactions including crying and quitting.

Findings include:

    • Office workers and managers consider performance reviews an unproductive use of time.
    • On average, managers spend 17 hours per employee preparing for a performance review.
    • Almost two-thirds of office workers (64%) and managers (62%) agree that performance reviews are outdated ways of managing performance.
    • More than half of office workers said they feel that performance reviews have no effect on how they do their job (59%) and are a needless HR requirement (58%).
    • 57% of office workers said performance reviews put them in competition with one another, and 61% said their managers play favorites
    • 61% of Millennials would switch jobs to a company with no formal performance reviews, even if pay and job level were the same.

When coaching and feedback sessions are not “used to judge,” people are more receptive to constructive feedback on where they need to grow, and in the long run, it will be far more effective and productive.

However, to make this work, it is necessary for companies to utilize appropriate hiring assessment tools to ensure that potential employees have the talent and potential to succeed.  As well, organizations must institute mandatory and effective management training, timely employee orientation, and a culture of ongoing coaching from a trained and competent management team.

What is your organization doing to improve relations between managers and employees that encourages growth and engagement?

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