Where Performance Reviews Go Wrong

What is supposed to be a constructive, mutually beneficial conversation between a manager and their employee is usually anything but mutual… Here are a couple of my thoughts on why:

– The participants want different things, which is never a good thing in a relationship! The manager wants to talk about where performance needs to improve, the employee wants to talk about pay and career progression. There’s a serious disconnect.

– The employee is lead to believe that pay and opportunities are based on performance when in fact that’s not the really the case. Lots of other factors including the importance of the role to the organization, market rates, the organizations competitive strategy, budgets and politics all play a part when it comes to decisions about pay and opportunities. To keep the pretense going the manager needs to fabricate a story about it all being based on performance. But no one is really convinced.

– Most organizations don’t have a system in place to objectively measure and record performance reviews, and in turn those reviews become loaded with biases. Not following? Exhibit A: It’s a well observed fact that when people switch bosses they often receive very different evaluations.

But hang on a second, we use a collaborative process for reviewing performance, staff get their say, so none of right applies to us ….. right? WRONG. Your employees know that these issues exist and so don’t trust the process, they often view “collaboration” as the manager’s attempt to have them offer up the instruments of their own torture and so they go through the motions and offer something that seems creditable but can’t really do them much harm.

So what’s the answer?

  1. Separate the performance and pay reviews. These are two different things so talk about them at different times.
  2. Implement a way to objectively measure and record performance.
  3. Use collaboration only when it makes sense, when it’s clear that there is a difference between the employee’s view of their performance and the manager’s a collaborative review is likely to do more harm than good.

Really. It’s that easy.