The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! The Annual Performance Review

May 10th, 2018

Q: What is resource intensive, emphasizes employee evaluation over development, tends to be retrospective, causes stress and is not convincingly linked to organizational effectiveness?

A:  The annual performance review

What’s hot?

According to the Corporate Executive Board, 66% of employees surveyed report that their performance review process interferes with their job and 65% say it is not relevant to their jobs.







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So what?

Given the pace at which companies operate today, employees need in-the-moment feedback that allows them to make adjustments in performance to meet both individual and organizational goals. The traditional performance management review process – as practiced by most organizations – has become a rule-based, bureaucratic process.

What to do?

It doesn’t matter where you are situated in the organizational hierarchy; you can initiate a more agile performance process that meets the needs of employees and makes the annual review process less burdensome and more likely to result in increased employee engagement, productivity, and participation in development activities.  Here’s how you can stop merely managing performance and start actually developing it.

  1. Determine how much feedback makes a positive difference. Increasing the frequency of feedback has a positive effect on learning and performance – but only up to a point. One survey found that baby boomers prefer less frequent feedback (experienced employees who are performing well in their roles may not need a lot of feedback); millennials reported needing more. How to find the sweet spot between too much and too little? Ask! And, give people an opportunity to tell you what aspects of their performance they are most interested in hearing about from you. People are more open to feedback when they have requested it and when it is expected.
  2. Adopt the feedforward approach. Annual reviews are retrospective – focusing on past performance. Feedforward is an in-the-moment approach that focuses on helping employees identify what can be done differently moving forward.
  3. Provide team members with opportunities to provide weekly updates and to discuss their performance. Weekly check-ins contribute to attainment of short-term goals and significantly improve the odds for long-term success.
  4. Implement regular review sessions with employees – maybe twice yearly, quarterly, monthly or even weekly. Discuss progress and areas in which the individual wants to learn and grow.
  5. Follow the guidance provided in 1 through 4 above to turn the dreaded annual review from a torturous process of ticking off the boxes and struggling to gain employee agreement with your ratings into a summary of the year’s progress and an identification of future challenges and opportunities.


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