Here is a harsh reality that Corporate America wants to pretend isn’t true.
By the time you get to a performance review your raise, your bonus, your promotion, etc. have pretty much been determined. Now your boss gets to justify why you aren’t getting a raise or why you are getting a raise. If we’re looking to fire someone, the review may go from what would normally be mediocre to nitpicking everything we don’t like what an employee did over the review period. If an employee thinks they are doing a good job, they will often rate themselves highly. How do you account for the disconnect when an employee rates themselves as good while the manager rates them as bad? Doesn’t that expose the whole farce if the employee’s self evaluation carries no weight?
In other words, the annual performance review is a complete waste of time. They mean nothing and they accomplish nothing.
I like setting yearly goal plans. Mostly because I like to define targets and I think people should know what their goals are. However, if those goals are attainable, and they should be, why is it part of the performance review? A goal plan is something that should be reviewed and adjusted quarterly. Irrelevant or unattainable goals should be removed. Goals that are attainable but are in jeopardy should be addressed. Also, employees should receive regular feedback. I have told my managers many times that if an employee receives negative feedback for the first time in their annual review that their manager has failed them. There aren’t many bad employees out there, just a lot of mediocre ones. Managers have a tendency to turn mediocre employees into bad employees by not making expectations clear, by not giving direction, and by ignoring performance problems in the hopes that it will go away.
Also, the annual performance review does nothing to address how we turn mediocre employees into good employees. A mediocre employee is not going to have an ambitious goal plan. They will set mediocre goals that they can attain with mediocre performance. Then if their goal plan turns into their performance review, which it usually does at most corporations, the employee will get a mediocre review. I think I see a pattern here.
To get a top performer you have to coach, you have to praise, you have to criticize, and you have to do these things routinely. You have to establish a pattern of consistent punishment and reward. People are simple and respond well. If something they do gets them praise, they will continue doing it. If something they do lands them in the Principal’s office, they’ll avoid it. If they don’t avoid it, then maybe they are a trouble employee. However, you cannot spot these patterns or establish these patterns by doing something once or twice a year.
The annual performance review encourages mediocre management practices. If it has no teeth, do away with it. I have yet to work for a company that actually delivered anything based on an annual review. Get rid of it. Kill it. If your managers need an annual review to manage their staff, they are probably not good managers!