Attending Annual Performance Review

Why the annual performance review has its own shortcomings

This common workplace ritual explored

Written by Professor Gary Martin FAIM
2 minute read
Attending Annual Performance Review

It has been described variously as all froth and no beer, worse than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick or just plain codswallop.

The performance review is the annual workplace ritual hated by most workers.

It is an excruciating exercise where a worker meets with their boss – or even bosses – to be rated on their workplace performance.

The reasons we dislike what is often an over-relied upon management tool are many and varied.

Performance reviews are often divisive, awkward and contrived and chew up an enormous amount of time.

They can be soul destroying, their purpose unclear and the rating systems unfair, wildly inaccurate and open to bias.

The much-loathed review often fails miserably principally because of the opposing motivations of the reviewer and the reviewee, which can cause more friction than steel wool on stubble.

The worker walks into a review meeting to bask in the glory of hearing about their fabulous achievements.

Yet the boss sees the catch-up as a great opportunity to steamroll the unsuspecting worker with all of their perceived faults.

To add insult to injury, there are hurt feelings following a review because – unsurprisingly – employees often believe they are much better at their jobs than most of their colleagues and bosses think. So when they receive a performance review rating that does not meet their expectations, they find it a bitter pill to swallow.

Performance reviews are renowned for creating schisms in the relationship between employees and their bosses.

The damage is usually caused because some bosses lack any emotional intelligence and end up being inaccurate, indecisive, insensitive or outright insulting towards their employee.

Take the worker who was told during her evaluation that she was too intimidating with members of her team.

When she sought clarification from her boss, she was told she was too open and honest with team members. Say what?

Then there is the case of the employee who was told in his annual appraisal he had lately appeared less engaged with customers – even though his boss knew full well that his mother had died only recently.

And what about the worker who was told by her male boss that if she wanted to get ahead, she ought to think more like a man?

It seems that when it comes to conducting annual performance reviews, some bosses open their mouth only to change feet.

Fortunately, a number of astute employers have recognised the inherent flaws in this much maligned practice and replaced annual performance reviews with more meaningful, regular and ongoing feedback.

If you remain unconvinced about how damaging performance reviews are to workplace relations and morale, try conducting one with your partner, child or another family member.

In the aftermath of the review meeting, you are bound to regret going through this pointless, awkward and potentially soul-destroying process.