Myth #1: All successful organizations conduct annual performance reviews.
Reality: Over the past few years, a growing number of well-known companies (including GE, Accenture, Netflix, Google, and Deloitte) have begun to re-think or eliminate the traditional approach to annual reviews. However, successful organizations still aim to discover the most effective ways to give thoughtful and meaningful feedback.
Myth #2: Annual performance reviews lead to improved performance.
Reality: From our experience, there is not always a clear association between the annual review and performance. In fact, there is research that shows the most common approaches to the annual review can demotivate, demoralize and decrease performance.
Myth #3: Leaders believe the time they spend on annual reviews adds great value to the organization.
Reality: Most leaders HATE this process; this is sometimes due to laziness but more often due to the amount of time and complexity that has been built around them. According to CEB (formally known as the Corporate Executive Board), managers spent over 200 hours a year completing reviews, and 77% of HR managers do not believe such reviews reflect the real value employees bring to an organization.
Myth #4: During a review, a supervisor must give an employee something to improve every time he is evaluated.
Reality: Why? If they are already doing an exceptional job, don’t punish them by forcing them to do even more work in "creating" developmental goals that are not needed. If an employee needs to get better, tell them why and how. Otherwise, you may be just creating unnecessary work and taking time away from more important work that needs to be done.
Myth #5: During a review, a supervisor should always have an employee come up with annual goals.
Reality: Again, Why? Any employee who is already delivering results and modeling the organizational values is already likely setting goals because they are results-oriented. However, requiring annual goals should be required on a case-by-case basis. Who is the person? How well are they doing? What else is needed to help them deliver results? Remember, many people are in support roles where the manager sets the goals, so why add any more?
Myth #6: The longer the annual evaluation form, the more effective it is.
Reality: The longer the form, the more painful it is! In an effort to appear thorough, some evaluation forms have become as painful as college entrance exams! The longer and more complex it is, the more managers and employees become cynical and the less likely it is to add value. If you are a leader, it is your job to be able to have courageous conversations without a metrics tool.
Myth #7: Deep down, all employees want to know how they are performing.
Reality: Wrong and right! Everyone needs to know how they are doing based upon clear expectations and ongoing feedback. However, in reality, most of us humans only want to be affirmed, not critiqued. So don't feel compelled to find something wrong with an employee if it isn't something significant, something the person can actually change, or something that is essential to the organization's vision and priorities.
Myth #8: Annual performance reviews are completely unbiased.
Reality: Double wrong. Over the years, research has continued to show it is hard for any person or review process to be completely unbiased. Things like chemistry (we like people who are more like us), timing (we rate people lower if they recently had a bad event), and labels (we rate people higher if they are already viewed as successful) all can add bias to an evaluation. One of the best ways to guard against such bias is to periodically conduct a 360 review on both yourself and your employees.
Myth #9: The primary motivation for annual reviews is to help the employee.
Reality: More often than not, the purpose has increasingly become reducing litigation risks by keeping Human Resources files up-to-date with documentation in case someone is terminated. While this is important, any evaluation process should have far greater motives and benefits than just this.
Myth #10: Employees should know how they are doing, I shouldn't have to tell them.
Reality: You would think any intelligent leader would not believe this, but you would be wrong. We often hear employees say their supervisor has NEVER told them how they are doing! While annual reviews are far from perfect, they do provide opportunity for feedback and discussion. However, frequent discussion and feedback that flows both ways, leader to employee and employee to leader, is even better.
The keys to successful accountability and advancing employee performance are clear expectations and regular feedback. Rather than focusing on using complex forms and providing feedback only once a year, aim to make feedback a regular part of your leadership. This helps to avoid surprising employees with negative ratings that have built up over many months. To learn more about how to provide positive reviews, contact us. We would be glad to talk with you!
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.