6 Signs Your Performance Review Process Isn’t Working

According to data by CEB Global, 95% of managers are not satisfied with their performance review process, and 59% of employees consider performance reviews a waste of time. Performance evaluations can be an effective way to appraise an employee’s performance, but only if it is relevant and accurate.

Performance reviews should be a part of a larger system of feedback and conversations that are documented within your HR software. Not only does frequent feedback keep your employees informed, but it also covers your legal bases, should the performance reviews not result in improved performance. Keep records of every review and every informal conversation to show progress toward goals.

But if your employees just aren’t performing, then maybe you need to take another look at your review process. Below are 6 signs that your performance review process isn’t working:

You’re waiting 6 months or a year between reviews

If business moves at the speed of light, you can’t afford to wait 12 months to address problems. According to Harvard Business Review, 33% of companies have abandoned the traditional appraisal process, replacing it with regular, informal meetings. When an issue arises, it should be addressed in those meetings – not months later.

By the time you get around to an annual review, you may have forgotten the specifics of a particular incident, and it’s likely that the employee has as well. Regular feedback is a more efficient and effective approach. It doesn’t have to be a formal process. Checking in for 5 or 10 minutes to go over issues and concerns (and reinforce desirable performance) can keep your employee on track.

Your reviews focus on the negatives

If your evaluation process only highlights what the employee is doing wrong, it creates a variety of problems. You’ll demotivate the employee, who perceives that you’re not happy with anything they do. And, why should they try if everything they do is wrong in your opinion?

Negative feedback should be balanced with what the employee is doing right. For example, “I appreciate that you are a hard worker,” followed by “You need to work better with the team.” Or, “I appreciate your commitment to meeting deadlines,” followed by, “Let’s work on improving your accuracy rate.”

You give vague feedback

When you’re critiquing an employee’s performance, it’s important to be precise. When you refer to an employee as sloppy, what does that mean? Are you calling them unorganized? Are you referring to their appearance being disheveled? Are they leaving a mess in the breakroom?

First, you should refer to their performance or behavior, instead of attacking them personally. If they’re unorganized, you should say that – and then provide examples. If their appearance is not up to par, address specific problems, such as wrinkled clothing, and how those details affect the team. If by sloppy you mean there are errors in their work, then you should say, “There were three errors in your last report.” Giving specific feedback about behaviors helps separate the issue from the person, and keeps your feedback impersonal.

You blame the wrong person

Sometimes, an employee may not be doing well, but it might not be their fault. Make sure you have the full picture of the circumstances behind disappointing behavior.

For example, let’s say you own a restaurant, and employees no-show or come in significantly late. Instead of immediately jumping to conclusions about the character of the employee, give them a chance to explain the situation. Perhaps as a result of constant changes to the schedule, it’s difficult for them to know when they’re scheduled. When there’s a last-minute schedule change, they might not be able to find a babysitter, or they might be taking a final exam at college, and unable to change their plans. Also, the change might not have been communicated to them.

You don’t offer solutions

Informing an employee of a performance issue is only part of the appraisal. The second part of the process is to develop a plan for improving their performance. Are there some company videos they can watch, or documentation that they can read? Can you show them an example of how the report should look? Will you pair this individual with a more skilled worker so they can learn how to get better?

A part of formulating a solution will be based on discovering the underlying problem. For example, maybe the employee doesn’t know how to use the company’s word-processing system to create reports, and they’re too afraid to ask for help. If the employee has a performance issue, perhaps the person who trained them took shortcuts, so they were never taught how to perform the job correctly. This is why it’s important to have an employee manual for tasks.

You don’t allow for employee feedback

Your employee needs to know what you think, but you also need to know what they think. While some employees will tell you what’s on their mind, others won’t say anything unless given permission or specifically asked to do so. Ask your employees for feedback.

Allow employees to conduct a self-appraisal, so you can find out how they think they’re performing. This serves two purposes. The employee will appreciate the fact that you value their opinion on the job they’re doing. And, it will also help you identify inconsistencies. For example, if you think they’re terrible at customer service, and they think they’re excellent in this area, clearly, this is a topic that needs to be discussed to see how the two of you could have such disparate views.

When conducted correctly, your performance review process can help identify problems, reinforce what’s working, and develop ways to make the necessary adjustments and improvements.

This article features the writing of:

Author Name: Terri Williams
Bio: Terri is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com. She has covered business and tech topics for a variety of clients, including The Economist Careers Network, Intuit Small Business Blog, Investopedia, The Houston Chronicle, Daily News Energy, and Homeland Preparedness News. Follow her on Twitter @Territoryone.