Why Are We Still Doing Annual Performance Reviews?

Ah the dread performance review. You know the drill. You fill out some far too lengthy form where you’re trying to be “balanced” (whether you’re evaluating yourself to meet with your boss or evaluating your staff so you can meet with them), so there’s some bad and more good. You weigh people against goals that were set 12 months previously, and try to come up with goals that will be in some way useful or to the point 12 months hence. Then you have a fraught, stilted meeting, everyone signs off, and you file the paperwork, sigh with relief, and go back to your normal job.


“But HR makes us fill out the stupid form!”

You’re right. They do.

Who says that form has to be the alpha and omega of working with your staff to help them develop as professionals?

First of all, unless something good or bad happened in the last week, there should be NOTHING on that HR mandated form that comes as a surprise.

Correct problems when they come up. Coach in the moment. Don’t wait. You may have misunderstood the situation, and even if you were right, and your staff member did screw up, you’ve wasted how much time that that person could’ve been doing things better?

But who says you only get to offer praise once a year? Set goals once a year? Revise goals and expectations once a year? Consider professional development once a year?

That’s just dumb.

Things change. People change. Situations change. Have you ever looked a goal you set a year ago and wondered what in the hell you were thinking? And now you’re bound to the damn thing, whether you will or not? Why? Amend the form. Tell your boss and HR what you’re doing and why.

But most importantly, review performance every day – yours, your boss’s, your staff members’, everyone. Praise, coach, re-evaluate where your organization is going and how you all can best contribute to getting there. Every day.

And yeah, you’ll still have to fill out and file the stupid form. But it won’t hurt nearly as much, and it won’t be the be-all, end-all of making your organization better.