Performance Reviews: What’s the Point?

Improving the productivity and creativity of employees is the paramount reason for doing Performance reviews. A successful discussion about the level of contribution and the processes and behaviors that led to the outcomes can and should be a useful, inspiring and meaningful interaction between an employee and the supervisor. Done well it almost always is.

Yet just about every study that asks either the receiver or the deliverer what they think of performance reviews results in a resoundingly negative feelings. They don’t like giving them and they don’t like getting them. Recently, this negativity has led some significant organizations to do away with them altogether. On the other hand there are myriad companies that offer online, updated, empirically sound and well documented and tested methodologies to take any guesswork out of the process and assure reviews are done correctly, legally, and defendably.

These rarely, if ever, focus on the intended purpose of a performance review: Improving performance.

Clearly, if an organization doesn’t improve each year it will fall behind. If each employee can improve their performance the organization can make significant progress. If they don’t, they won’t. Whether the needed change in performance is focused on predictable, controllable results or on creativity and innovation, if improvements aren’t continually made, the organization will become more vulnerable to competitors whose work force grows and develops.

So what’s the point? Continual improvement. Not how much of a raise to give, not how many fall within the normal distribution curve, not compliance to set parameters. Purely for improvement and growth. With the amount of complicated and hard wired systems for sale, it would be a reasonable assumption to believe that giving a good review is a very difficult task requiring sophisticated software, extensive training and on-going monitoring.

In the next post we’ll discuss some specific ideas for how to implement reviews that will be motivational, developmental, and simple.

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