Taking the Pain Out of Performance Reviews by Creating Conversations

Performance reviews

Why do we do annual performance reviews?

There are various reasons, some better than others depending on who you talk to. Lawyers will tell us that we need them to document performance problems. The learning & development crowd may approach it from a standpoint of identifying development needs.  The CFO will tell us we need to link performance to pay.

Another common argument to do performance reviews – “because we’re supposed to.”

Do any of those reasons put a spring in your step to go do annual performance reviews, either as a manager or an employee?

“Clearly, the annual performance review was designed for a work environment where control of individual employee performance was a key function. In today’s team and collaborative environment, that perspective no longer makes sense.”

– Ray B. Williams, Wired for Success

Work has become more collaborative, more knowledge-based and, as a result, more difficult to measure. At the same time, technological advances have made employees crave more real-time feedback. Waiting for annual reviews to come around no longer suffices to satisfy employees’ (especially millenials’) desire to know how they are doing and what areas they can improve in.

Without managers giving regular feedback, employees are left in the dark about their own performance, and the company is not helping them live up to their full potential. So how do we transform annual performance reviews into ongoing performance management?

Turn once a year reviews into regular conversations.

Performance management really boils down to a simple question: did you do what was expected of you? Performance management isn’t about forms and ratings. It’s about meeting expectations. So, teach managers how to have conversations with employees to clarify expectations up front and to measure performance against those standards on the back end.

Performance management doesn’t require formal documents or process. It is incredibly simple. We’ve added complexity over the years based on faulty assumptions and misplaced hope that the additional forms and processes add value. They don’t.

Managers can be highly motivational through performance management, and many see great results by focusing on an employee’s level of improvement rather than where they rank among their colleagues.

Following these 5 steps will set you on the path for successful performance management:

  1. Set clear goals
  2. Determine key job responsibilities
  3. Identify and USE competencies
  4. Coach on a day-to-day basis – continuous feedback
  5. Honest and objective (data and factual) appraisal of performance

Basing your performance conversations on these best practices relieves the pain of annual reviews, and simultaneously reduces issues within turnover and employee engagement.

To learn more about training managers how to turn ineffective performance reviews into ongoing development conversations, visit and view our on-demand webinar!

Taking the Pain Out of Performance Reviews from BizLibrary

SEO Strategist at BizLibrary