Why do people hate performance reviews

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Let's face it: nobody likes the annual performance review. Nobody . Appraisers (managers) hate doing them, employees hate getting them, and human resources hate managing them.

Every year there is at least one book and tons of articles on why they should be banned or fixed. This has taken as long as we can remember and little improvement seems to have been made. What is this annual corporate ritual that causes such dismay and pain?

More importantly, can it be fixed?

We hate to be pessimists, but after studying the subject of performance appraisals for more than 25 years, we've made numerous attempts to reinvent or fix broken systems, getting hundreds of reviews and making every mistake is made We have come to the conclusion that performance reviews will always be a less enjoyable experience for everyone involved. Why?

First, let's name the inevitable reasons employees, managers, and HR hate them on the table that cannot be fixed and accept them as a given. Then let's talk about how we can finally make the process less painful. Why We Hate Performance Reviews: Indicates we just have to soak it up and accept:

Human nature

People hate when their mistakes are exposed and managers hate giving negative feedback. But wait, don't all studies say people want and love feedback? Sure they do as long as it's positive.

When we receive feedback that calls into question our assumptions about ourselves, we automatically enter a protective "fight or flight" survival mode. We deny, get angry, defend ourselves, or withdraw. No artist likes getting a negative review, no restaurant owner likes getting a critical TripAdvisor review, and no employee likes to hear their flaws pointed out by their manager.

And unless the manager is a sadist and enjoys causing him pain, most managers don't like bringing bad news to their employees. In fact, most people don't like giving negative feedback. This is the reason why 360 anonymous reviews are so popular because they allow people to say what they are really feeling without having to be confronted or questioned.

Formality and red tape

Typical performance reviews include a prescribed process, forms, and a formal discussion. It is often not the actual discussion that employees (and managers) find painful, it is the "stiffness" and the feeling that one is forced to adhere to something that one would rather not have to do.

It's extra work

Everyone is so busy these days, in fact we always have been, we work hard and hope for positive results. The annual review is coming and it feels like "extra" work getting in the way of our real work. Managers, especially those with many direct reports, spend endless hours filling out forms, posting comments, reviewing records, having discussions (sometimes in multiple meetings), and filing paperwork. Employees are often asked to do self-assessments and be ready to defend themselves, and HR ends up with an impossible mountain of paperwork that has to be compliant with all kinds of state and federal regulations.

Okay, if we can just accept that performance reviews can include negative feedback, are a necessary part of working life, and require extra work that isn't particularly fulfilling, do we have to hate it or are we? In some ways, can we make them less painful than a root canal? Absolutely! Here are three simple ways to make performance reviews less painful:

Eliminate surprises

Most people hate negative feedback when they first hear it or when it comes to something they had no idea about (blind spots). The way to minimize the pain of hearing about weaknesses for the first time during the annual performance review is to get in the habit of giving and asking for feedback on a regular basis. If feedback is conveyed and received early, often, specifically and in a balanced way, employees have time to process it and do something about it.

Managers can create an environment that encourages the mutual exchange of informal feedback in a way that builds trust and eliminates surprises.

Better still, create systems where employees can measure and monitor their own performance. For example, no manager needs to point out to a sales rep that they are having a bad month. Already painfully aware that they are not meeting their sales goals, they are looking for ways to improve. Then a sales manager can offer valuable coaching to get the sales rep back on track.

Better at giving and receiving feedback

The more experienced we are, the more comfortable we become with it. See "How do I get feedback?" And "feedback". "

Simplify the process

Why are performance reviews so complicated? I've seen versions that have 14-page forms and a series of three meetings. It's usually because they're designed by well-planned HR departments (or consultants or lawyers) trying to cover every aspect of performance management in a single form and process.

The solution? They're not fancy software systems that just automate (and sometimes complicate) a bad process. I would a single page - or no more than two pages - recommend a performance review form. I saw this implemented and it was very well received by managers, employees and HR.

Implement these three relatively simple fixes and your annual performance review can still feel like a trip to the dentist, but more like cleaning your teeth instead of an agonizing root canal.