Performance Management Blog

Employees Should Stop Whining About Performance Reviews

Posted by Jamie Resker on Mar 7, 2011 11:03:00 AM

performance reviews are bad

And do Something About it...

As the primary mechanism for delivering feedback, the annual performance review leaves much to be desired. I don’t know that reviews will ever be dumped, but I do know that managers, employees, leadership and HR don’t put a lot of stock in them.

It’s silly to wait for a once a year report card and then sometimes be surprised at the information or disappointed in the rating and pay raise. If we’re relying on this process to improve performance and communicate important performance action items, we’ll be waiting another hundred years. For all the fancy, over-engineered automated review tools glutting up the market, there’s still no replacement for getting the real information first hand and in small doses all throughout the year.

This is scary.  For years we’ve been polling people on this question:

When do most managers usually intervene when there’s a performance issue:

  1.  Early on with informal feedback
  2. When a known pattern has developed
  3. After it’s been going on so long they are just ready to fire the person (and seek help from HR to get the exit plan in place)

Data collected from a webcast we ran for the Human Capital Institute showed that just 6% of managers give early-on informal feedback while 50% wait for a known pattern to develop (months and years) and 43% wait until they are ready to fire the person. Ouch!   

This should be a wake-up call for employees everywhere!  Because it’s uncomfortable to initiate the conversations and most people (and that includes managers) are afraid of confrontation and defensive reactions we’re apt to be left in the dark about how we’re really doing.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be in the 50% or 43% category because then it's too late.   

Unfortunately we can’t always count on having a manager who has good communication skills and who we trust.  My best advice to employees everywhere is to continually ask two questions of our trusted advisor networks.  First, identify your network.  Who says it's only the boss who has valuable information? What about internal customers, colleagues, vendors and clients? 


1.  Tell me what I'm doing well and that I should continue with (this way you can become aware of and leverage your strengths. 

2.  Tell me one thing I could do that would help me be more effective.

Notice how I asked about what I could do as opposed to what my weakness or deficiency is.  Why on earth would I want to know that and why would someone want to tell me (honestly)?  I also asked about the one thing.  Performance reviews are about the 15 things; TMI! 

When I'm asking for feedback I'm mentally ready to hear the information, I can ask who I want, when and how often too.  I'd rather not wait around for the annual review to find out what I need to be recalibrating in terms of my performance. Frankly, I'm all set with that. 

Let’s stop whining about the system, which we all know is flawed, and take individual responsibility for actively shopping for our own feedback.  After all, I’m the one responsible for my own career and development. 

What do you think?  Should we wait for others to serve up feedback or should we take the lead?

Topics: asking for feedback, bad managers, employee development, performance feedback, performance reviews, avoiding conflict, bad performance review