Performance Appraisals Aren’t Dead, You’re Just Doing Them Wrong

In a recent article published by Knowable Magazine, Chris Woolston explores why the well known “employee performance review” is unhealthy for a workplace, and is in the end not a productive way to form an all-star team. 

For starters, we do think some good points are made. 

Woolston begins by mentioning that the success of a company often rests in the quality of its people. It’s often a challenge for employers and managers to sift through the employees that are going to drive productivity, and the ones that aren’t – both true and valid points. 

Elaine Pulakos, a management expert, goes on to state that, “formal attempts to rate employees don’t seem to meaningfully improve employee performance or give companies any sort of competitive advantage.” 

She points out that “annual or semi-annual performance reviews are toxic, have no impact on productivity, and are potentially harmful or damaging to a company’s culture.” 

Why? Ultimately, it is argued that formal performance reviews become biased feedback and are a self-serving exercise in politics, not giving a realistic examination of employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Instead, managers need to focus on everyday management and real-time feedback keeping the conversation open. 

We don’t disagree entirely, but we aren’t recommending you boycott performance appraisals just yet – here’s why! 

“I believe that when employers have clarity on their job descriptions, a clear focus on objectives, and goals for the position and person, a regular formalized review process is critical,” says Trevor Johnson, Specialized Recruiter and Founder of BullsEye Recruitment. “Where the breakdown happens is the lack of review within the first 90 days. At six months, if the review is swept under the rug again, the annual process becomes problematic, as they described in the article. When there is no real data to base work improvement and team development, it becomes personal versus data-driven.” 

How can this be fixed? 

Trevor explains that employers need to recognize individual personalities and behavioural styles. Thus, exercising their position as a motivational leader, driving longevity and performance.

In review, a few tips for providing quality feedback to your employees: 

  • Areas for improvement should be an open conversation, not dropped for the first time in an assessment meeting. 
  • Include 360-degree feedback: It’s always helpful to hear what your peers have to say in order to foster a strong, productivity-driven team. 
  • Prepare for an in-depth discussion: Conversation is key. In order for your assessment to be proactive, prepare for any questions your employee might have, constructive feedback, and be open to hearing all sides of the story. 
  • Make sure you’re aware of the company goals and what you’re looking for out of the person and the role: If you can’t answer these questions, how is your employee supposed to fulfill the role to their maximum potential?

When was the last time you evaluated how you were assessing your employees? Need help? We are always here to support you through every stage of the recruitment journey. 

Contact us today to get started. We can’t wait to be a part of the process. 

P: 403.264.2242

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