Performance Reviews – Overkill or Necessity

Now in our 8th year of doing business, one of the topics we have always struggled with is what form of performance appraisal system is required in order to meet our needs, our employees needs, but also not be overkill or too much of a burden on our staff that sometimes join a small company in order to get away from bureaucracy like this.

Let’s face it, we all hate performance reviews. Employees hate filling them out, customers hate providing feedback for them, managers hate taking the time to write them, and nobody likes to be told what they are not good at. That being said, my opinion is that it is critical to have some form of a review system in place because it is not fair to an employee that is looking for feedback on how they are doing on their job to not receive it. It’s also not wise for us to let an employee flounder in their job if we feel we can help them improve not only their work experience but also that of their customers.

We have tried it all. Mid Cycle reviews, Year end Reviews, Informal Reviews, Virtual Reviews. This year I think we have finally found what will work for us. A very simple year end review that requires the employee to rate themselves on a few of our core competencies, followed by input that is provided by the client, and then management input that will culminate with an in person review between the manager and the employee.

My thought on it is that if you are going to have a performance review program than it should serve the purpose that it is in place for. It needs to be honest as tough as that may be at times. In the past we used to sugar coat things and I think it was a disservice to our staff. Reviews aren’t meant to just tell the employee what they are good at. If you can’t be honest and tell your employees what they need to improve upon, your customer eventually will and at that point it may be too late. Our goal this year in writing our reviews is to give all staff members something that is actionable for them to improve upon. This doesn’t by any means think they are not good at their jobs. It just means that they are not perfect and that we are trying to help them improve themselves and in doing so also improve our company reputation with our clients.

I know that many of our staff hate the fact that we require this review and that they are forced to rank themselves and then sit through a review with their manager. In all honesty, I know that our management doesn’t really like having to do them either. After a few years of back and forth on this topic though, I think that we have come to the realization that it is our duty as management to provide our staff with an honest and useful review so that they are never blindsided by this information after it is too late.

What kind of feedback do you provide to your staff?


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