Annual Performance Reviews. There Must Be A Better Way.

The collective sigh can be heard across the office. Yes, it’s that time of the year again. Time for performance appraisals.

While the prospect of a salary increase or a promotion is appealing to most, it seems this is not the case with the process that drives the review of these benefits. Why is this?

I was going to start with a short history of the annual performance review but then realised this would probably be even more mundane than a performance review itself.

Why then the antipathy towards performance appraisals? Probably because the system doesn’t work. Imagine adjusting the course on a sailing ship only once a day? Career advisors, advisees, managers, and direct reports all feel the same. Everyone is groaning under the strain of this non-essential work and the HR department is like Santa at Christmas time.

If either you or your direct reports need an annual review to understand how things are going, then you’re both in trouble. Let’s be honest, by the time it gets to performance appraisals your boss and your boss’ boss already know whether or not they’ll promote you.

Many job posts (yes, we all look!) even list the annual performance review as an employee benefit. Are you serious? It’s like saying that paying interest is a benefit of having a credit card.

Of course, proponents of the annual performance appraisal will say that it is important to have a process such as this. Because, in addition to improving employee performance and identifying high potential employees, it gives employees a voice. Now I don’t know about you but I certainly wouldn’t want to be voicing my opinion only once a year! Even as an employer you’d want to be focused on employee performance and talent management throughout the year.

If performance appraisals don’t work, then what does? Your career advisor can only tell you what has worked for them or how the intricacies of the organisation function. Employees need to take charge of their own careers, but shouldn’t be left out in the cold. All they need is some coaching to understand what their objectives are and how they are going to achieve them.

But what about the day-to-day performance of employees you may ask? Let this take care of itself. Your organisation probably already has some form of a measurement system in place to handle this. Spend time with your most valuable assets talking about the bigger things.

These discussions still need composition, especially if they are to happen more frequently than once a year. Your coaching approach should incorporate structure if you want to get results.

So as a leader, manager, or career advisor start your coaching journey to improve the performance of both the organisations and employees that you serve.