Why Annual Performance Reviews Are A Waste Of Time
How many times have you had to stop doing something important just to fill out an employee's annual performance evaluation? How often was that because somebody from Human Resources was bugging you for it? Or the employee was reminding you, because their raise depended on it?
Those are certainly the most common reasons why we make time for them. Sometimes a sense of obligation or a good secretary's reminder triggers it. None of those are valid reasons for doing an annual performance evaluation, yet that's why most of us do them.
Did you ever think, "If I don't get all of my employees' annual reviews done on time this year my boss may hold it against me on MY annual review" ? That is a better reason, but I'll bet it never happened.
How about doing it because "I may be able to help an employee improve his or her performance"? I'll bet that doesn't happen as often as hauling someone into your office and chewing them out or walking out to somebody's cubicle and congratulating them on getting the project done ahead of time.
And that is my point. ANNUAL performance reviews are a waste of time because they are too infrequent.
You see it yourself in your own review. Your boss doesn't mention whether or not you got all of your employees' annual reviews done on time, because. usually, it happened so long ago he doesn't remember. And neither do you for that matter.
So What's Better
Well, more frequent is better. And less formal is better. Better for both you and the employee.
If you have to do formal reviews, do them quarterly. Most of us can actually remember what has happened over the last three months. Be sure to spend less than a quarter of the time doing them that you would have for an annual review. Then when you have to do an annual review you can just review the past three months and tack on the three previous quarterly reviews.
The best performance review is the ongoing review. Work with your employees on how they are doing on a task by task basis - daily or weekly. Let them know right away what they are doing wrong so they can correct it now, not twelve months from now when it has become an ingrained habit.
Be sure to also point out the things they are doing well. Remember, we all like praise. Remember too that if you neglect to tell them that something they are doing is right, they may not realize it and they may change it.
Skip the Formality
The other benefit to doing frequent (continual) performance evaluations is that they become less formal. Neither you nor the employee feels stressed about it. This can eliminate the kinds of extreme behavior that we read about when an employee, who has been reprimanded, goes home gets his gun and comes back to the office and shoots his boss, several coworkers, and himself.
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