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95 Percent of Managers Hate Performance Reviews. So Why Are We Still Doing Them?

Topics: Career Advice
bad performance review

Have you had your annual performance review this year? If so — and things went well — you’re probably just relieved that it’s over. Unsurprisingly, most surveys show that employees don’t care for performance reviews.

But would you believe that your boss probably shares your sentiment?

Management research firm CEB “found that 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with the way their companies conduct performance reviews, and nearly 90 percent of HR leaders say the process doesn’t even yield accurate information,” writes Lillian Cunningham at The Washington Post.

As a result, many firms have done away with performance reviews. Others have changed their review system to de-emphasize ratings and rankings and encourage more frequent communication between managers and their direct reports.

However, reviews are far from dead. At the 2018 National Workplace Strategies Seminar, James Pennington, an attorney at Ogletree Deakins, reported that 91 percent of employers gave performance reviews in 2017, compared to 94 percent in 2016. Eighty percent still gave rankings (down from 85 percent in 2016).

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Performance Reviews Are Broken

“Performance reviews are just another stupid part of the bureaucratic Godzilla system,” writes Liz Ryan, founder and CEO of Human Workplace, at LinkedIn. “Once a year we sit down with our employees and tell them how they’re doing, in case there’s some reason we can’t talk to our employees every other day of the year.”

To be effective, feedback can’t be a once-a-year process. That’s difficult if you have a manager who only speaks up when something’s wrong. But as Ryan points out, even in that case, the onus is on you, the employee to reach out.

“Don’t wait for your annual performance review to get feedback from your manager, if you want it,” she advises. “It’s available all year long, but you may have to ask for it!”

Here’s How to Get Feedback Instead

Unless you’re a decision-maker, you can’t do much about your company’s approach to performance reviews. You can optimize your experience of them by preparing ahead of time and learning how to react positively to constructive criticism afterward. But perhaps the most valuable thing you can add to the process is not to depend on it for feedback.

That might mean:

  • Making better use of your one-on-ones. Come prepared with a list of questions and ideas to review. And try to make them a habit. That requires gently reminding a boss whose calendar fills up quickly.
  • Seeking out feedback between meetings. If you work in an office environment, you probably have several ways to communicate with your boss, including email and messaging applications like Slack. Use them to touch base when you need feedback. For best results, pay attention to how your manager likes to communicate. Some people prefer in-person talks, while others would rather communicate online. Connecting the way they prefer will make it easier for them to hear you.
  • Being proactive about following up. Most managers have a lot on their plate … but you won’t help them by ignoring concerns. If you think something deserves their attention, raise the issue. Don’t keep your boss in the dark.

Tell Us What You Think

Performance reviews: yea or nay? We want to hear from you. Share your opinions in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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