- July 21, 2021
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management
The Annual performance review is a terrible waste of time and a terribly inefficient method of creating improvements in your associates. For one thing, if you are measuring everything in your operation, from the associates working on the floor to the back-office staff, they know when there’s a problem almost immediately. They don’t need to wait for an entire year to get an important piece of feedback, they need it now.
Good leaders are also willing to have a conversation with their team members to improve their performance. As I read recently in IndustryWeek.com:
True leaders do not need a system to force conversations about job performance, expectations or satisfaction. These are a part of the normal interactions between a skilled and effective leader and his/her team members. Leaders often guide and develop the performance of team members through three regular conversations:
Another problem with the annual performance review is that people get conditioned to that timeline. That means that 90 days before their performance review is due, they start acting like cornered rats. They can’t do enough for you, they work very diligently, and the human memory isn’t that good that you can remember the other nine months of that person being a sloth and a slacker. What you end up with is making decisions based on the last three things you can remember.
Or you can be like the boss that a friend of mine had. This joker kept track of every single thing the friend did wrong during his first year on the job. Every misstep and error he committed was recorded for the annual performance review. The guy was blindsided by the review because he wasn’t aware that half of these had ever been problems in the first place.
The manager had not only never corrected him on any errors he made, which meant many of these problems became habits that were hard to break after a year of doing them. This also had a demoralizing effect on my friend and made it harder to do his work for several weeks.
Another problem with the annual performance review is that most people hate confrontation, so when you have to deliver bad news, the best time to do it is quick. Don’t wait 12 months to deliver bad news, because then people have a tendency to be more averse. I’ve always been amazed at how many people have been fired after 10 or 12 years of perfect performance evaluations.
Now, unless you groped somebody, I don’t know how that’s actually possible. Either someone just wanted to fire the “perfect” worker, they did something out of character for them, or a new manager has it in for the employee.
In those cases, all those perfect evaluations work against the company in employment discrimination suits, because now the company has to answer questions about whether they’re lying about the employee or is the supervisor just afraid of conflict, and that put them in this position?
When we did annual performance reviews, I used to get all over our managers and supervisors that their annual performance reviews were always glowing. I would say, “You know, I’ve heard you complain about this person every day for the last six months. How is it they have a great performance review? Either you’re not being a jackass when you complain, or they’re actually not performing and you’re not being honest with this review.” So we decided that the only way to be objective about it is to measure them quantifiably.
Bottom line, the average supervisor is not a leader, and if they’re the type to make evaluations based on three months’ worth of data, or worse, keep track of everything in a secret document for an entire year, they’re never going to be a good leader. A true leader will tell you immediately when you messed up so you know how to fix it.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business, including pivoting within their industry. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Basti93 (Pixabay, Creative Commons 0)