Why Performance Reviews Disengage Employees

by | Jul 21, 2018 | Employee Engagement Training

The Purpose of Performance Reviews
Do you know why performance reviews disengage employees? Too many managers forget about the fundamental purpose of performance reviews.  They get so wrapped up in the mechanics – filling out the forms and coordinating the schedules – that they do not pay enough attention to the goal. 

Any kind of review of an employee’s performance should provide meaningful feedback so the employee gets better at what they are asked to do for the organization.  The employee should understand what they did well and where they can improve – and the manager should emerge with a better understanding of what interests and motivates the employee so they can be more fully engaged.

What Goes Wrong with Performance Reviews?
Somewhere along the line, many of these performance reviews fail in their purpose.  Part of the blame can be attributed to the format. 

·         Ratings scales capture only the short-term

·         Self-evaluations miss external input

·         Forced distribution does not allow for abnormal performance, good or bad

·         Forced choice ignores gray areas

·         Field reviews neglect context

·         Manager essays depend too much upon the manager’s skills as a writer

Beyond the shortcomings of these typical formats, most performance reviews are too infrequent and too formal.

We advocate a completely different way to critique performance and engage employees. We urge our clients to adopt a performance management practice of frequent, informal, one-on-one meetings.

Frequent, Informal, One-on-one Meetings
Why? We have found that more regular feedback on performance is more effective because it is:

1. Timely
Meeting on a regular basis means that observed behavior is recent, not 6 months old. Both the reviewer and the employee can refer to the situation clearly and discuss it.  With more frequent adjustments, no problem gets too big to handle and no extra effort goes unrewarded.

2.  Workable
From the employee’s point of view, a less than stellar review can still be overcome.  Any negative feedback from the manager is less overwhelming.  When a manager gives feedback in the spirit of supporting the employee’s success, the employee is open to focusing on improvement.  The requested behavior change is workable and do-able.  With ongoing coaching, both the manager and employee track progress and are invested in success.

3.  Future-focused
Monthly one-on-one sessions do not focus on the past but look toward the future.  Instead of zeroing in on what went wrong, the focus is on what can be done more effectively going forward.  This point of view is far more likely to increase employee engagement.

The Bottom Line
In this case, we say toss out the old and bring in the new.  Do not let your performance reviews disengage employees.  To improve performance and increase engagement, forget the formal, annual review which didn’t work well anyway.  Instead, set up regular meetings with each employee and encourage their participation in assessing their performance, suggesting ways to improve, and committing to continuous learning.

To learn more about performance management basics for managers and why performance reviews disengage employees, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers

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