It's About Time: Ditching Annual Performance Reviews

I read an article on Ragan.com that talked about how Accenture is doing away with annual employee performance reviews in favor of more frequent feedback.

I didn’t research this, but I’m sure Accenture isn’t the first large company to do this; still, the story caught my eye. All I can say is, “It’s about *%#@ time!”

I can’t imagine anyone reading this who would disagree – and I know we’ve all been the recipient of the annual performance review “gone bad” at one time or another. I remember when my supervisor at a former employer, who shall go unnamed, demanded – yes, “demanded” – that I mention to on of my direct reports that she was too fat. Yes, “too fat.” Integrity was more important to me than towing the company line, so what I did was tell my supervisor, “First, are you kidding me, and second, hell no!”

I kept my job, needless to say, and while this is an amazing story about what not to say in a performance review, it leads to so many other instances of how one-a-year feedback is a terrible way to manage anyone. Employees would rather hear constructive, continuous feedback:

  • Unlike your kids’ soccer team, not everyone gets a trophy. Just the same, however, praise someone when they did a good job.
  • If they did a not-so-great job, discuss solutions with them on how they can improve. Ask them to come to you with solutions so that it’s not just a one-sided conversation.
  • If you sense the employee is sensitive about meeting with you to discuss performance on a regular basis, ask why. Chances are, he or she has never been treated with the respect someone deserves by getting regular, continuous feedback on how they are doing.

I’m not an HR expert, but I’ve been through enough reviews in my lifetime to last a lifetime.

Don’t have a supervisor? If you consult and work with clients like I do, ask your clients for regular feedback. Don’t pester them and appear too needy; that would be irritating. Instead, schedule a quarterly or semi-annual meeting (in person if you can) to have a frank discussion. Remember, too, that this works both ways. If you’re unhappy with the client’s performance, then you should let them know about it, in a constructive manner, of course.

No one’s perfect, but honest, regular discussions like this really help.

2 comments to It’s About *$@% Time: Ditch the Annual Performance Review

  • Stuart Rosenfield

    I absolutely agree with the article. Performance reviews only entail anxiety for the person giving and getting the information. My best managers give me job feedback on a regular basis, either during/after a deliverable or on as “as-needed” basis. That way, I am able to quickly make changes where areas of improvement are needed or “keep doing what I’m doing” in areas where I receive kudos. When working for someone, the the faster you can adapt to feedback, the better. Waiting for an annual review can be months too late to make a career difference.

  • Thanks, Stuart, for your comments. The less anxiety, the better the employee!

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