Category Archives: Performance Management

Why (most) performance reviews are a waste of time!

You may have heard the latest – Accenture and Deloitte are dismantling their annual performance review processes, clearly because they see them as a waste of time and energy.  They are replacing it with greater ongoing feedback to employees from their managers on completion of assignments.

While a significant number of large organisations are doing likewise, I believe that this disillusionment with performance reviews is not a fault of the performance review process. Rather, I see it as a combination of issues that have contributed to the performance review receiving a bad name.

Performance Management: Critical Success Factors

The performance review has been subjected to attack, largely because the performance management process is usually not carried out effectively. All too often, staff come to the performance review with no real idea as to how their manager viewed their performance – they received minimal feedback throughout the year.  By the way, a survey carried out some years ago revealed a very important unanswered question for so many staff: “How am I doing?”

The following steps need to occur, not just to ensure that the performance review is meaningful, but so that all staff and managers are as motivated, skilled and productive as they can/should be.

Effective Performance Planning

This involves setting SMARTA goals/objectives and related Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for all staff, and ensuring that they understand and are committed to their goals. SMARTA is an acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Trackable and Agreed goals/KPIs.

This is an area of real weakness for most organisations that I have worked with.  All too often, the KPIs used are too ‘woolly’ or vague, are not SMARTA, or they simply focus on easy-to-collect numerical KPIs rather than a sufficient spread of meaningful KPIs.  By way of example, the key KPI for bank tellers of one bank I worked with some time ago was the number of customers handled.  All well and good, you might say, but what about the quality of those interactions?  Were those customers really satisfied with the service provided?

This phase should also encompass providing any new staff with proper induction and all staff with identification of their learning and development needs.

Performance Monitoring

This should be ongoing throughout the year. There should be an emphasis on proper, timely recognition of good performance and the timely addressing of poor performance. There should also be effective coaching, constructive feedback and delegation of tasks, and helping staff to address their learning and development needs.

Performance Review

There should be effectively, timely annual performance reviews, as well as a less formal half-yearly review. This should be two-way – the mantra of the manager should be ‘practice the art of no surprises’.  In other words, the employees should essentially know what feedback they are going to receive.  It is also important for managers to minimise the rating errors that can creep in with performance reviews (recency effect, halo effect, central tendency, etc.)

By the way, I disagree with the notion of having a ‘normal curve’ distribution against which  all staff are measured.  This is one criticism that has been levied against the infamous performance review.  It is important for all staff to be effectively measured against the extent to which they achieved their goals/objectives and KPIs (bearing in mind factors outside their control).

Questions for you:

How is the performance management process viewed and practiced in your organisation?

Importantly, how do YOU practice it?  How do you measure up against what is written in the article?

What one (or two) areas do you want or need to focus on?

Narayan van de Graaff